By Becky Jones

(This is the last post of a four part series, click here for post one, here for post two, and here for post three.)

And until you can understand the truth of who you are, you won’t be able to have authentic relationships with others.

I first want to say Thank You for sticking with me through this 4 part journey of Unmasked! I hope you have enjoyed it and been challenged by it! You are getting a very short (relatively speaking in the blog world) and a condensed version of the bigger study the Lord has laid on my heart over the past year. I’ve really only begun to lay the foundation of what living unmasked looks like but I pray something resonated deep within you regardless. Through these blogs I shared my own struggle with the rollercoaster of life and admitted how I struggle in my daily spiritual disciplines, how I get frustrated with my life circumstances and that sometimes it’s easier to escape my harsh reality by putting on a mask and pretending “I’m fine”. I’ve shared that living an Unmasked life hinges on your belief and trust. When you struggle to trust the character of God in every circumstance of your life, especially the ones you don’t understand, you then lack the intimacy with him he desires because you mask who he really is and who you really are. Then I talked about the identity issue and trying to answer the question Who Am I? I revealed a little of what was under my own mask in asking that question. I challenged you to go to the Word of God to find the truth of who God says you are so you can live free and unmasked! Living unmasked is a process and each concept builds on one another. Until you understand the Truth of God’s character you won’t believe Him when He speaks an identity to you. And until you can understand the truth of who you are, you won’t be able to have authentic relationships with others. Which is where this last post leads me because don’t we all crave authentic relationships with God and others?

A while back I happened upon something on social media called Confess Your Truth. This is a place where people can submit, 100% anonymously, whatever truth about themselves or their situation they feel they want to confess and get off their chest. Nothing will be responded to so it isn’t a place to receive counseling, criticism or judgment. It’s just simply a place to completely unmask yourself without fear of anyone knowing it’s you. Let me tell you, this site is not for the faint of heart. I got caught up one day reading these truths and bawled my way through most of them. My empathetic heart could not handle it. Some of them were funny and just being silly but most of them were so raw and heartbreaking. These people are completely vulnerable and sharing things that are mind-blowingly personal and real. I still sometimes go and read these confessions and pray over the people writing them. I am so burdened for them. I’m burdened for you and all you are going through in life. As I think about it all I can’t help but question why it’s so much easier to be vulnerable and unmask to the entire internet world of people you will never meet than it is to be real with those who love you the most?

Fear and Shame. That’s the answer I came up with. I believe we are all looking for a place of belonging. We’re looking for our tribe so we can love them hard and then wear the t-shirt to prove it. We long for deep levels of intimacy and want to find connection with others that goes beyond surface level. We want to know we are worthy of being loved and belonging somewhere. We want relationship with others so we know we aren’t alone. But we allow fear and shame to keep our masks rooted firmly in place and we miss out. Fear and shame will rob you of truly living the real, authentic and abundant life God created you to live!

Relationship by definition means: the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected, the state of being connected. I recently came across a definition of Shame that stated it as “a fear of disconnection”. And Vulnerability by definition means: capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt – open to criticism or moral attack.

Fear and shame is what keeps your mask in place, vulnerability and courage is what will remove it.

So if I view these three concepts within the idea of living Unmasked what I have is this: My shame tells me there is something about myself that if other people knew it, they wouldn’t think me worthy of a relationship. But vulnerability says if I will unmask and let go of who I should be, in order to be who I really am, connection with others will take place because the risk I’m willing to take shows I am worthy of love and relationships. Fear and shame is what keeps your mask in place, vulnerability and courage is what will remove it.

One of my favorite things to do is go to the Movies and when the new Cinderella movie came out last year it very quickly became my favorite adaptation of this story! There was something so captivating and beautiful about it. There is a motto within the movie that says “Have Courage and Be Kind.” I absolutely love that! If only we all would live that way! But there was something else so profound within the movie; it stood out to me far more than anything else. As in all the Cinderella stories, she gets to spend an amazing night dressed up with the Prince and remains anonymous for the entire evening until the clock strikes and unfortunately she must run away and then accidentally leaves her shoe behind. While the Prince is on the hunt to find The One who had incredible taste in footwear, Cinderella begins to worry that he might actually find out who she is. She was so desperate to escape her circumstances that she put on a mask for the night and pretended to be something she wasn’t. And it’s in these moments of her realizing the potential disaster she might have on her hands if he finds out the truth, that the Narrator speaks. She says, “Would who she was really be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take—to be seen as we truly are.”

Isn’t that the truth? Vulnerability is a huge risk! It can be hard and messy but also incredibly beautiful and freeing. If we were to be real and honest, most of us aren’t just jumping up and down ready to show anyone our fear, our pain, our pride, our depression, our insecurities, our closet sins, our frustrations, our judgment of others, our worry, etc… so we mask them with fake happiness, false humility, un-genuine relationships and ultimately a counterfeit life.  We eventually find ourselves completely unsatisfied in life because we aren’t living it out authentically and those who claim to know us best, don’t really know us at all. An author named Amy Harmon once wrote: “The most intimate thing we can do is to allow the people we love the most to see us at our worst. At our lowest. At our weakest. True intimacy happens when nothing is perfect.”

‘That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)

When we begin to allow ourselves to admit our weaknesses and imperfections we put ourselves in a place for God to move and relationships to take root. To set aside fear and shame and admit weaknesses actually makes room for the strength of God to take over in our life. Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect. He came to save the sick, the unwell, the imperfect. Without us admitting we aren't whole, He can't fill us with his holiness. Vulnerability humbles us and allows us to become more like Jesus. It allows us to have compassion for others in their weaknesses.

Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect. He came to save the sick, the unwell, the imperfect. Without us admitting we aren’t whole, He can’t fill us with his holiness.

When we come to the realization we are worthy to be loved just as we are, we will begin to take the risk of being vulnerable with God and others. And the beauty of vulnerability is that once you take the risk, it will give others permission and courage to do the same. You don’t have to hide behind a mask of fear and shame any longer, friends. You are worthy of love. You ARE loved, you just have to believe it so you can receive it! There are people out there who will find you a breath of fresh air, that will love you in the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and everywhere in between. Don’t give up! It is a risk well worth taking when you end up with authentic relationships that give you the freedom to be YOU! The more you live to BE loved, the more you WILL love.

Meet Becky Jones

Becky and her husband, Shane, and their two kids live North of Dallas. Becky is one of a kind (in the best way). When she is not writing, speaking,  or leading  at her local church she is getting her daughter to her next dance class or battling the next level in Star Wars with her son. Fun and laughs will come if you are around Becky for 5 seconds but make sure you stick around because she is a deep well with a passion for pursuing God's real heart for herself and others.  I asked Becky to launch our first blog series with her study on being unmasked and I could not be more thrilled she said YES.  Join us for the next few weeks to not only be encouraged  but also given the freedom to have honest conversations with yourself, the Lord, and others. You will not regret it.