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Stripped!

Have you gone crazy putting so much of yourself online?

Yes and no, depending on who you ask.

If I have gleaned anything from all the time I have spent couch surfing in therapy over the years, it is this: without transparency it is next to impossible to have the kind of loving, nurturing relationships we need in order to be healthy and whole individuals.

When we are able to take off our masks and reveal what is underneath, we create an opportunity to connect to one another on a deeper level. We need intimate connections; it is part of our lifeline. It is the oxygen our lifeblood needs so our hearts can be hearts of flesh instead of lifeless hearts of stone. When we start getting real and getting honest about ourselves, freedom unfolds.  If we close ourselves off, we shut out the very things that make us who we really are. Our masks put us at risk to developing a hardening of the heart and to being rendered unable to just be.

I have personally experienced a spiritual death as a direct result of keeping the mask on and carrying nasty baggage around. I have experienced the kind of wasting away that happens when we are cut off from nutritive relationships. It rendered my heart completely lifeless.

I have mentioned before that there is a father of lies whose aim is to confuse our identities so we become as shut off from God as possible. The harder our hearts get, the harder it is to hear the voice of our real Father.

‘Ego eimi’ is Greek for ‘I AM’ or ‘I Exist’, which is the way God refers to Himself when speaking to Moses in Exodus 3.  Ego is related to identity and self-importance and this was something I could not ignore.  Digging a little deeper into Latin roots and Greek roots, even as a layperson in that arena, opened up an entirely new perspective for me.

Transparency allows us to identify one another more accurately and our defenses no longer have to be the driving force of our lives. Denial is a particularly insidious defense mechanism because it appeals to the ego.  Denial is a mask we wear to hide behind and our ego can get the better of us when we wear that mask for very long.

Our egos can become full of self-importance on either end of the spectrum; we can have just as much pride in our worthlessness as we do our worth.

Being able to identify one another more accurately allows us to create healthy boundaries for ourselves and others.   Plus, it gives us the security of knowing who we are, who we belong to, and where we fit.

Transparency keeps us in our place, more or less.

My husband and I have experienced the process of stripping our souls naked and getting real. It opened a connection with each other we would not have had otherwise. It is an incredibly unifying experience to be transparent.  We both needed to get our egos out of the way in order to truly connect the way we needed to as husband and wife.  We got to know each other just as God wants us to know Him.

I am only sorry I wasted so much of my life trying on masks and costumes that did not fit or belong to me. It affected way too much of who I was, what I said, and what I did.

Adam’s response in Genesis 3:10 was one of shame:

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Fear, shame, and doubt are truly at the root of so many of our problems. Ultimately, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice by continuing to put on the shrouds (denials) we use to hide ourselves from each other and from God.

One of the most compassionate and beautiful qualities of Jesus is that He is does not condemn or reject us when we go to Him just as we are. He wants us to bring Him our masks and costumes and He wants to have access to what is underneath.  He wants us close enough to Him so He can give us the care we need to be cleansed from the fear, shame, and doubt that have gotten us all into so many pickles.

If I had opened myself up to all of this a long time ago, I would not have had to couch surf through so much therapy!   I have gotten myself into pickles seasoned with a vast variety of flavors that I might have otherwise avoided.  There’s nothing that can churn the stomach more than crunching on a fistful of bitter, old pickles.

This blog is my soul getting naked, without shame, and opening myself up to connect with those who are in need of connection. I am giving you the option to accept me or reject me.

I guess if that makes me crazy, I am okay with that.  I know Who I belong to and Who it is I am crazy for.

Heavenly Father,

I praise You and I thank You for doing the work that needed to be done for me to be stripped of my grave clothes. I praise You and I thank You for the garment of praise!  May Your Spirit touch the lives and hearts of those who are shrouded in shame, fear, and doubt. May Your Spirit lead families everywhere to freedom and connection in You and each other.

Amen

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays

21 thoughts on “Stripped!”

  1. Wow, this post is so awesome. Blatant blunt honesty, this is real! Thank you! Your description of living behind a mask is spot on and your statement “we can have just as much pride in our worthlessness as we do our worth” really, really got my attention. You write beautifully, Thanks! 😆 Barney

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God bless you, Barney! I sincerely hope the resources I shared are helpful for you as you continue to work toward healing and freedom! Keep fighting the good fight! You will be in my prayers and my husband’s prayers. 😃

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  2. Vulnerability feels risky – it is the key to healing. Those hours spent on the couch were not wasted, look how rich your writing is, how filled with keen insights you have gleaned. Loved this post and your willingness to lay everything out in hopes to encourage others who have experienced deep brokenness. Your writing is so beautiful and your message is powerful. May God anoint and bless these words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some person I have never met just sent me a direct message on Twitter:

      Deuteronomy 31:8
      The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

      This is one of many verses I have to use to soothe that raw feeling of vulnerability. Apparently, God just wants me to weep it all clean today! I, too, pray all the time that He anoints these words and uses them for His glory.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. No, just a random person who said that God laid it on their heart to pray for me and felt the need to send that verse right then. It is one of those mysterious ways God moves to give us a message. So, I am feeling around for my roll of tissue!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! The reason I asked is because I shared your blog with a friend today. I sent her to your page, “Why am I here.” She was moved that you listed Isaiah 43:1-2 at the end of your post, she said it is one of her favorites and it gave her chills to see it on your page. She’ll be following you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another good post. My struggle with the mask is that I will often keep it off, and some people are really not fans of that which leaves me confused. (I guess it goes back to your other post about critics.) And on that same note, I get somewhat discouraged because I will have the mask off and realize that the person I am speaking to, and pouring myself out to, is not even really hearing me….you know, like really, really hearing me. Have situations like that? I think we all might. Lastly, when you mentioned about you and your husband, something that caught me off guard in a very good way was when my husband and I began to share prayer time allowed, mainly the part where we repented. To hear another people openly sharing what they are honestly asking God for forgiveness for…wow, that’s humbling. It make me reflect on myself, made me look at how God works in us and it made me feel closer to my husband than anything ever has. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even when our masks come off, we can be dealing with others who are keeping their masks on. Both parties in a relationship, regardless of the type of relationship, need the mask off or it just won’t jive. So, yes, I know what you are talking about and it happens all the time! I have to continue to remind myself that it really is not personal (easier said than done, I know!) and I will just keep my mask off, yet also know how to guard my heart in the process. The wonderful thing about giving someone the option to accept you or reject you for who you really are is that there is freedom even if you are rejected. Their loss, right? I think anyone would be lucky to have a heart like mine in their corner. That isn’t tooting my horn, that’s is simply knowing who I am, especially who I am in Christ. 😀

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  4. In your usual style, this is very open and honest. We need to be truthful with ourselves and our God. For He knows our hearts…it’s what He looks at with each of us. May we always “strip” ourselves down to the bone as we then can build up new muscle and skin. We can also rebuild our hearts and minds in order to better serve Him. In that process, we become better people for ourselves and others. Good post with some open and honest perspective!

    Steve

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  5. I just came across your site through the Daily Word Prompt. I love this post! I cannot even count how often God has been showing me different ways that I have allowed shame, doubt, and especially fear to influence me and keep me from moving forward in my life. Thank yo so much for sharing and being an instrument through your vulnerability of what true freedom looks like.

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  6. I’m nominating you for That’s So Jacob’s March Blog Madness! It’s simple: find five interesting blogs today, copy and paste this comment, and give them a follow!

    Like

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