The Illusion: Painted Faces
A Mama of 3 kids scurries around everyday at 4pm. She knows her husband will be home by 5:30 and the house is a total wreck. When they were first married, he was so hard on her about how the house wasn’t clean enough. His criticisms cut her to her core. Determined to never feel like the, “loser” he said she was, she panics every single day.
On this particular day, even though she doesn’t want to, she screams bloody murder at the kids because they’re not moving fast enough during clean up time. As she screams, she rips the toys out of their hands, throws them into a garbage bag and sends the kids crying to their room. Blaring music over their wails, she tosses the chicken casserole, she prepared for dinner, in the oven and burns her hand. There isn’t time to cry though. She just remembered the laundry in the washer (that she put in 3 days ago) and races downstairs to rerun the load for the 4th time.
Back upstairs, she finds her second child standing on the landing, crying and asking if Mr. Boopie is gone forever. Exasperated, she takes the garbage bag filled with toys upstairs and dumps it out on the kids room floor while saying, “If you ever, Ever, EVER do this again, I WILL throw these toys away FOREVER!”. Leaving her stunned kids behind, she runs to her room, washes her face, puts on fresh makeup, changes her shirt and curls her hair totally obvious of the damage to the souls of her children she has caused.
Just as she finishes, her husband walks in and with a painted smile on her face, she greets him as though her day was filled butterflies and rainbows when instead, it was a real struggle to just keep her head above water.
While the above story does not come from my life; it could have. For much of my 20’s and even into my 30’s I really struggled with putting forward an image of me that was authentic. I was so caught up in what people thought about me, I lost perspective and worked hard to morph into whatever I thought they wanted. I was constantly painting new faces on; covering the old that was unacceptable and reinventing a new, more vibrate, colorful, one for everyone to see.
Unfortunately, after years of reinventing myself, I couldn’t keep up with the contestant changes. I burned out, utterly tired of simply not being me. After so many years of painting faces though, finding the authentic me was much harder than you would think. Even more difficult was learning to put my paint brush down and, leave it down, when the slightest hint of rejection came my way.
Learning more and more about God’s love for me helped me leave that old paint brush further and further behind. Learning to trust and take Him at His word that today, as I am, is enough…is beautiful…is just as He planned… has helped me, in particular, when I feel critical of myself or when my failures overwhelm me. Allowing the Scriptures, that talk about how God sees all of us, soak deeply into my soul has gently coaxed me into a more forgiving and grace filled perspective. Most of all, learning to trust God’s love for me to the point where I now openly share my victories and my sorrows; my faith-filled moments and my sin-filled stumbles, has opened my eyes to a life filled with hope and freedom. Why? Living authentically — with a commitment of no longer hiding behind painted faces — has allowed me to discover that I am loved just as I am — flaws and failures included. This is the most powerful weapon against the relentless cycle of shame, performance and striving to please others that once ruled my life. It has freed me to walk a life filled with self-acceptance by embracing God’s amazing grace just as I am…flawed but forgiven.
Have you ever painted a facade on your face either because you’re afraid of rejection, criticism or perhaps you just feel unacceptable as you are? You are in the company of multitudes if you answered yes. The good news though is you don’t have to live the rest of your life weighted down by performance or trying to be what you think others want you to be.
You are beautiful, lovely, and completely acceptable just as you are. You no longer need to compare yourself to others or try to reach an unreachable bar. Instead you can embrace His grace, forgiveness and mercy and begin a new journey of walking with the understanding that he is absolutely overwhelmed by love for you….today…no painted faces needed.
May we all learn to see ourselves through God’s amazing love. May we all grow in grace towards others and ourselves.