Do you ever find yourself at the end of the day exhausted and frustrated? I’ve tried all day long to be a productive member of society. Here I am still dealing with the physical pain and weakness from this ruptured disk. The physical pain from my rheumatoid and fibromyalgia, and don’t even get me started on the emotional pain. It’s the worst of all today. I’m frustrated, disappointed, and exhausted. Exhausted from trying to wear that darn mask. Do you try to wear it too?
That mask about which I speak is the “everything is fine” mask. You know, the one you put on when you leave the house. When you put on the make-up, fix your hair, put on the cute clothes and try to convince yourself and the outside world that all is well, when inside you’re ready to melt down. Yes, that mask. It’s the happy photos on your social media profiles, the uplifted voice when someone calls and needs to be cheered up. The trying to sound like you’ve got it all together, when in reality, you are no where remotely near all together.
Why is it as women we beat ourselves up? Why is it that when I’m sick, and in overwhelming pain, I can’t allow myself to get the rest my body craves. Why can I not allow myself to cry without feeling like a weak person? I remember being a little girl, and I was quite an emotional mess. If you hurt my feelings, I’d cry. If I was exceptionally tired, I’d cry. Even into my early 30’s I would collapse into a heap when things weren’t going well. Then, something happened in my life. Something changed. I started to heal from the years and years of being emotionally chastised for crying. You know, the “if you don’t stop that I’m going to give you something to cry about.” Or what about, “straighten yourself up right now. There is no reason for all this crying”. Yep, childhood memories of a weak person that flood back over me in Goliath proportions. Memories that made me choose to no longer appear weak.
I think the change came when my son was reaching pre-school/elementary school age. He required some special education services in the early years. I had to always appear in control, deliberate, and educated when I went into those meetings with school administrators. I had to put on the poker face, and act like I was in complete control as I fought intentionally for each service my child received. I couldn’t burst into tears in those meetings. Those people would see me as weak and steam roll me. Day by day, month by month, year by year, I’ve constructed a mighty mask for my cover. It looks like me, and speaks like me, but never looses it’s cool. It certainly never cries.
I continue to pile more and more upon myself. I’m the strong one! I’m the fixer! I’m the one everyone comes to when they need counsel. I can’t be weak! That all changed in the last six month. My Dad became very ill, was hospitalized, and had to spend several months in a nursing home. I had to travel to help my mother manage Dad’s care. I had to help care for Mom. I had major surgery. I’m a homeschool mom, and my son was struggling with depression. Then, just as I thought I was going to get out from under it all, I ruptured a disk in my neck. All of the plates I was so skillfully trying to keep rotating in the air collapsed. With them, came my mask.
The Lord was speaking to me during all of this time. Telling me to trust Him. Telling me not to worry, and that I don’t have to be the strong one. He was telling me to just let Him take this load off of me. One day, something changed. I heard the Lord, and I listened. Isaiah 41:10 began to resonate in my heart and mind. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Why do I continue to worry? Why do I put on the mask? There is no need for me to continue to balance the troubles of the world on these shoulders. No! No longer will I do that. I am going to trust you Lord for YOU ARE MY GOD! That was the day the mask fell off. The day when I was able to give myself permission to cry when I was overwhelmed. Permission was granted not to appear all together all of the time. Permission was granted to be weak, because my God would provide my strength. My shoulders feel much lighter now. No longer is the weight of the world upon them. Even more, I can breathe so much easier. No longer is the mask covering my face.
Dear Sister, are you struggling? Are you feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Are you trying to be perfect? Are you wearing the mask and trying to appear to have it all together? Are you exhausted and frustrated from it? I pick mine up sometimes too. We are going to stop right now, and claim Isaiah 41:10. Don’t wait, don’t put it off, just stop. I’m throwing the mask down. How about you?
No longer do you and I need to fear, for your God is with us. Do not be worried and distressed, for the Great I AM is your God. He will be your help and your strength, and He will hold you up when you are weak and falling. Breathe easier dear One. You don’t need to try to be perfect for one more moment. God loves you just as you are. Lay your worries as the foot of the cross. You are beautiful exactly as God made you. Don’t waist another moment fretting over perfection. God has you in the palm of His mighty hand.
Oh, and the mask…let’s do over very best to never pick it up again.