It’s July 2021, and Canadians are emerging out of an almost two year period of wearing masks everywhere we went. We are relishing our freedom. But today, I want to talk about a different type of mask.
I wrote the following piece over 27 years ago when I was in the beginning stages of healing from a traumatic childhood. During that process, I identified myself as broken. I believed I had little value in the eyes of God and man. Perhaps God loved me, but I was a masked being in the vast multitude of the billions of people that He loved in a corporate sense. I existed. Therefore, I was loved by default. I held little regard for myself as a person, and I vowed never to leave my masks behind.
In the murky shadows of an abandoned attic, behind broken chairs and torn kites, beyond tattered curtains and cracked vases, covered with dust and cobwebs, sat a trunk. Rusty at the hinges, the nondescript chest held the only reminders of a life once lived, a life seemingly abandoned.
As it opened, the trunk’s hinges and latches groaned and complained from long years of silent waiting. Faint aromas of camphor and mothballs mingled with the dusty confines of the attic. The scent of neglect and disuse evoked memories of whispered regret, broken dreams, and empty promises.
Within layers of yellowed and fragile newspapers from an era long ago lay masks of various sizes, shapes, and expressions. Although not visible by a casual glance, you could see a certain continuity, albeit a mysterious one.
The first mask to be unwrapped depicted an infant. Its face is innocent, trusting, and full of wonder. Lips red, mouth slightly open as if to drink in life; cheeks dimpled and pink. The mask was created to be kissed, and it was carved from the most delicate ivory and treasured indeed.
Another mask revealed the same child, but a few years older. Chin determined, red lips half opened with questioning. The face turned upwards and outwards, as if beholding a wonderous world. The mask was formed from delicate bone china and would have been flawless but for a few faint lines on its brow. These gave a slight hint that the child already carried too heavy burdens for one so young.
Buried deeper still was yet another mask – its expression no longer innocent. The child had seen too much. The face still held the roundness of childhood, but the eye slits narrowed as if to keep some truths hidden. The face gazed downward, and its lips were tightly closed. It knew that some words were not to be spoken. Made from smooth white plaster of Paris, fine cracks and lines were visible to the discerning.
A sense of sadness wrapped around the next mask, the face appearing to be old before its time. Its lips were pursed as if to strengthen itself against the world. The eyes were distrusting. The mask’s tint yellowed as if it had been allowed to weather in the harshness of the noon sun and left to its own devices. Anyone courageous enough to take a more extended look could easily see cracks and chips marring its surface.
The mask of a young adult lay near the bottom of the trunk, carelessly shoved in a paper bag. The face was closed in, now carefully guarding secrets. Its eyes were heavily hooded. A discerning eye could see the same person depicted in the first mask, but all innocence and trust were gone. The paper mache mask was discoloured and stained, making it difficult to distinguish it from the yellow-grey of its wrappings.
Shattered remains of a mask scattered the very bottom of the trunk, unrecognisable. It was doubtful anyone could put the pieces together, and it was doubtful all the pieces were even there.
As the trunk’s lid slowly closed, its hinges sighed heavily for the life once lived. Darkness crept in from the shadows, swallowing the trunk and its contents once again. Apathy and fear muffled the cries that longed to be heard.
©1994 Katherine Walden
Thank God I am no longer shattered!
God heard my cry and rescued me, delivering me from darkness! I must admit it came as a shock when I realised that I was the one who built the trunk that held me captive. But by His grace, Christ set me free. I was unmasked. Although I carry scars to this day, those scars continue to fade as I turn my face upward toward His light.
Perhaps like I once did, you believe God’s love for you is born solely out of pity. If so, you underestimate His undying, consuming, and relentless passion for you. When Christ wooed you to Himself, it was no ‘mercy date’ on His part. His plan all along was to bring you into an intimate relationship. His death on the cross proved that He was never interested in a casual, distant relationship!
Over time, with God’s help and professional counsel, I realised the masks I wore only concealed the person I was created to be. I let go of the lies attached to these identities and began to walk in wholeness, leaving behind the dusty old attic.
I pray that my story of God’s empowering grace will give you a gentle push to start the process of leaving your masks behind. You see, we first mask ourselves and then convince ourselves that these masks are our true identity.
It’s time to be unmasked. We can only find our identity in Christ and who He says we are.
I invite you to listen to this timeless song by Janny Grein, based on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Unfortunately, Janny’s music is no longer available for purchase. However, I discovered this old gem someone uploaded to Youtube. Look past the old-school graphics, this video was put together over a decade ago, it appears. Close your eyes and soak in God’s grace as you remind yourself that you are now a new creation in Christ.
If any man be in Christ
Then he has become a new creation
Old things have passed away
Behold everything has become new in Him
God no longer knows the things
That brought you to this place
Before you came here
He only sees you whole in Him,
Faultless and blameless
As you’re standing there
Lift your hands and praise Him
Praise the name of Jesus
Through the blood of Jesus,
Is like a robe upon you
Clothing and covering,
His garment of praise
Will now adorn you
You’ll live and reign forever
As kings and priests and sons
He’ll call His own
His blood is flowing in you now
Royalty has finally found a home in you
©Janny Grein, Bill Grein
ATTENTION: Zoom meetings are currently on a Summer schedule
Every Second Monday – our next meetings will be held on August 2, August 16, and August 30. In September. the day might switch depending on the school schedule for me. Stay tuned.
We meet at 5:30 PM MDT. I host an informal discussion group on the Zoom platform. You are most welcome to join us. Would you mind using the contact form to message me with your email address if you have not contacted me already? I will have a waiting room enabled. If I don’t recognise you, I won’t add you to the call to ensure the safety and privacy of the group.
The zoom call is ONLY for those who contacted me through Facebook, email, or the contact form on this site. If you have not yet sent me your email address and would like to participate, do so by replying to this email. Let me know you are a member of this list and you’d like to join the Zoom Call. You would be most welcome to do so.
©2021 Katherine Walden