Imagine an arena filled with people. The cheerful crowd eagerly takes their seats as the lights dim and all eyes focus on center stage. Everyone is fixated on the man in the top hat as he enthusiastically welcomes them to the circus. There are dancing bears, trapeze artists, roaring lions, and clowns. I don’t know why, but clowns have always made me feel uncomfortable. Clowns wear masks, their true identity obscured beneath layers of strategically painted lines. It’s bizarre to think that just beneath the bright red smile, an entirely different person exists.
In an odd kind of way, clowns reminded me of myself. There was a season in my life when I worked hard to quietly conceal hurt and shame behind my own personal mask. It was a lot of work keeping up appearances. Therein lies the question, why do people hide behind disguises? Facades are meant for storefronts and houses, not for people. Living hidden isn’t living at all. Being covert is something God never intended for His children, yet Christians seem to be among the majority when it comes to masking their hurts and disguising their struggles.
Now, travel back in time to the story of the woman mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 8. Jesus is on His way to minister when the oversized crowd presses in so tightly there is barely room to move. Suddenly, Jesus freezes and insists on knowing who touched Him. He had felt the current of healing power surge and impart into someone who was shrouded by the crowd. It was a woman whose name is never mentioned but who was determined to be healed and set free. She wanted her life back, the life she had before her issue of blood branded her “unclean.” Levitical law sentenced anyone who was in her condition to an isolated life, a life void of human touch and physical interaction.
No one knows how she came about her issue of blood. Had something happened to her? Was this the consequence of something self-inflicted? All we know is that she was desperate enough to push through the crowd, reach out, and touch the hem of Jesus’s garment. She believed that Jesus had the power to heal and restore her broken, battered body.
I understand how she felt—desperate times call for desperate measures—but what I love about this story is how Jesus decides to handle the situation. He stopped everything in order to acknowledge her. The Savior of the world intentionally paused and recognized her unprecedented faith. Jesus wanted to see her face to face, and what an intimate moment it must have been. He didn’t just walk on by, but instead, He looked right into her eyes. She would no longer be defined by her sickness and considered unclean. She was healed! This act of faith alone changed the course of her life, and she would never be the same.
When I was young, I was naive. Poor judgment led to regrettable choices, and my neediness made me an easy target for unhealthy relationships. It’s difficult even now to think about all that took place, but the fear of being judged rather than loved led to a lifestyle of isolation. I can relate so well to the broken state of the woman in the Gospel of Luke. I, too, felt condemned to the title “unclean.” I had a broken and bleeding heart from the personal rejection of others. I thought that those who preferred living by the law instead of embracing grace would be determined to condemn me. At the time, living a lie seemed easier than facing the truth of my compromised past, so, like many Christians, I hid behind a multi-layered mask. The thought of removing it seemed overwhelming. I pretended that all was well while I suffered in silence.
The gift of grace restores the relationship with our Heavenly Father, and God’s intention is to better the lives of those who love Him. So why not choose to embrace His love? In Him, we are to walk in truth and transparency. How could I feel loved if I wasn’t honest with myself and others? So, in an act of child-like faith, I ripped off the mask. There I stood fully exposed, flaws and all, but I had never felt so loved. No more pretending or performing; the only judgment that mattered was His and He loved me.
For those who are still hiding and afraid to walk in transparency, it is imperative to grasp the truth of God’s Word: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, NKJV).
A new creation? Yes, a new creation! The past has no power over your future, so it is time to expect a better tomorrow. God knows that masquerading is a hindrance to a genuine relationship with Him. Can you take off the mask and let Him love you just the way you are? Are you willing to invite Him into your life and, by faith, receive the healing you need to overcome any shame, insecurity, fear, or regret? Oh, how He longs to set you free from anything that would be a barrier from His loving kindness and forgiving freedom!
Jesus said it best in the Gospel of John, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:3, 31; NKJV).
Facades are meant for storefronts and houses, not for people. The Bible states that Christ’s death on the cross was to give believers abundant life. Trying to exist behind a painted smile isn’t being true to yourself. Shadows conceal, but His love reveals. The circus is a fun place to visit, but you can’t live there, nor can one experience a quality life by hiding behind a mask. Isn’t it time to live renewed and walk by faith? Come out of hiding and let Him look at you, face to face. May you begin to see yourself the way He sees you, a beautiful and glorious reflection of His love.
Written by Yvonne Hancock
Featured Image by Pixabay
In-Text Image by Alexandru Zdrobau