On family trips growing up, my sister and mom often fell asleep in the back of the car. Co-pilot to my dad, we would chat, share stories, and listen to music. My favourite was when he would pull out the sound track to the Phantom of the Opera. With each song, he would paint the picture of what the stage performance was like. I was captivated. Especially by the song, “Masquerade”.
“Masquerade! Paper faces on parade
Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you
Masquerade! Every face a different shade
Masquerade! Look around, there’s another mask behind you”
The picture was vivid as I imagined beautifully dressed men and women ballroom dancing with beautiful masks. I was swept into the mystery of the masks. Little did I know the significance they would play in my own life.
As my high school years unfolded, I found that I could quite easily excel at almost anything I put my mind to. Music, sports, and academics were just a few of the many areas I was drawn to. With a desire to please, I wore the mask of the person I thought they expected me to be. Unfortunately, this led to having no clear idea of who I actually was. I was burdened by this but didn’t know how to escape it because everyone else around me seemed to not have this problem.
It was through increasing discontent in feeling the pressure to fit a certain mold, lead a certain way, choose certain songs, and “have it together” on stage as a worship leader that I finally unraveled. I found myself at the foot of the cross broken, weak, and exposed. The Lord knew me behind those masks, the real me. He led me to an exercise of praying Psalm 139:23-24. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Through this I realized that even in knowing the deepest parts of me, He had no condemnation. He gently began to take the masks off and reveal to me who He had created me to be. His daughter. Forgiven. Made whole.
It would have been easy to stop there. It would have been easy to remain hidden behind a mask of freedom. To lead being redeemed in Christ but not allowing anyone else to know that there was reason for him to redeem me in the first place. But that is pride. I would have robbed myself, the people I lead, and my relationships had I stopped there.
The way everlasting calls us into authentic community. We desperately need others to encourage, uplift, call us out, and hold us accountable. No matter our role, job, or status. We also need others to show us we are not alone in our struggles and there is freedom from them. When we begin to live and lead authentically it breeds authenticity, returning the focus to Him who is worthy rather than to our luxurious masks. Which begs the question, are we living and leading authentically?