When A Mask Hides The Real Me

d3ca19b2258c77da791a9a3e93514413Two years ago I took a personality test, “Wired That Way,”  while attending a weekend retreat at the beach with a fabulous group of ladies. I had never taken one before and was completely frustrated and confused by my responses to the questions as I took the test. My results actually produced “unnatural results.” Figures.

There are four different personality types: Popular Sanguine, Powerful Choleric, Peaceful Phlegmatic, and Perfect Melancholy.

Each of us has a dominant personality type with a secondary personality that compliments the dominant, but…and this is where it gets interesting…there are two combinations that are not natural though they’re often seen together. In other words, they do NOT belong together. They are Popular Sanguine/Perfect Melancholy and Powerful Choleric/Peaceful Phlegmatic. Either of these two combinations indicates misunderstanding the test questions OR a personality mask.

Of course I would have to be one of those who produced an unnatural combination. Finding out that my two personality types are in opposition to one another really did nothing for my self-esteem. Duh. No wonder I’m a mess. My drama-queen-self nearly overloaded from the drama it created in my soul and spirit. I’m thinking identity crisis with a capital I.

And then there was the ultimate question, which personality was the mask and which one was real? Because in all honesty, I really did think I possessed a lot of the character traits in both Popular Sanguine and Perfect Melancholy. Talk about a moody woman.

What I learned from taking this test is that sometimes we let our life experiences build up walls in our persona. We wear masks to hide our pain, our hurt, our insecurities, our weaknesses, our frailties. Life experiences can shape us in ways that are unhealthy, unnatural, undesirable. Part of God’s perfect plan for each of us is that we take our life experiences…the ugliness, the dirt, the trauma, the grief, the loss, the pain…and let Him use it all for His good by shaping our character in positive ways and strengthening our faith.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who know Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

God wants to use my life experiences to shape and mold me into His image. He doesn’t want to cover up. He wants to expose because only then will I truly be able to embrace the work of His hands. Only then will I get to see the real ME.

“He makes everything beautiful in it’s time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11a

After some proper instruction and a lot of discussion, embracing the Sanguine in me wasn’t an issue. Putting aside the mask of Melancholy, though, has been a process. I want to be who God created me to be without covering up, without hiding, without wearing a mask I wasn’t created to wear.

I may have adapted well as a child living with moderate disabilities, but as a teenager I reacted differently. I learned to hide what I was feeling in my heart. I wanted to be just like everybody else. I spent a lot of time acting out in ways that weren’t healthy. I don’t even remember when I first put my mask on, but after many years I discovered that acting really is exhausting work.

Ironically, I’ve learned in my faith journey that I’m not to be like everybody else. I’m called to be different. I’m called to be set apart. God made me one-of-a-kind. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same. My disabilities are a part of who I am, but they don’t define me. I’m a child of the King. Saved by grace. And washed in the precious blood of the risen Lamb. This is my mantra. This is my identity. (Repeat as often as needed.)

Oh my, I do believe I hear the Hallelujah Chorus ringing in my ears.  

We have to be careful we don’t re-identify ourselves when life hands us some B-A-D stuff…

…like living in a home with alcoholism, severe illness, or extreme dysfunction.

…like strong feelings of rejection or feeling unloved.

…like emotional or physical abuse.

…like living with domineering or controlling parents or spouses.

…like physical impairments that cause emotional trauma.

(and the list can go on and on and on….)

I really do want God to produce good things in me so I’ve learned to let Him use the bad things that have happened in my life to inspire and encourage others in their own walk of faith by sharing how He makes me, ME.

It’s okay to want to know what makes me tick. It’s okay to want to know why I am the way that I am. It’s okay to want to know how I’m wired, but in the end I want to be as “natural” as I possibly can be. I want to be real. I want others to see the real ME.

More importantly, I want others to see JESUS in ME. Because Jesus isn’t fake. He isn’t phony. He’s real. He’s honest. He’s true. He’s faithful. He’s trustworthy. He’s genuine. He’s all these things and so much more. All the things I want to be.

Jesus is the ultimate in real beauty.

So, here’s to removing our masks.

Here’s to Christ. In whom my identity is sure. If I wanna hide, you better believe I wanna hide in Him.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right head of God. Set your minds on things above, not on early things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

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