Thursday, September 19, 2013

When A Woman Finds Her Voice - Behind the Mask

Jo Ann Fore
Today I am linking up over at Jo Ann Fore’s site with some other really awesome women. There, we are sharing a true prayer from the depths of our souls that God would unveil our masks. Many of us have stories that exemplify how God was able to lift our masks, allowing us to be more authentic followers of Him. I hope you will join us and through their words gain hope and encouragement. If you're a blogger, link up as well.  If not, write your thoughts in the comment section below or on Jo Ann's page.  

While you are there be sure to check out the information on Jo Ann’s new book titled “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” – soon to be released.

Being real. Authentic. What does it mean. Webster describes this word as "something that is not imitation or artificial. Genuine." Genuine. Bona fide. True. Proper. Palpable. Am I these? Am I who I say I am behind the doors of the home I reside? An even more sobering question haunts....Am I who I am on Facebook, or other social media?  Are you?

Very sobering indeed. Jo Ann Fore's book - When A Woman Finds Her Voice has really begun to shape the places of my heart that I have allowed to become complacent. The places where I don't want anyone to see. The places that if they were to be exposed for the world to see, I would hide, too shamed to show my eyes.

Why do we pretend? Why do we hide who we really are?  Better question yet, why do we feel the need to become someone we were never meant to be?

Why do we wear masks that hide our true selves?
For me, not very long ago, my true self was something that I wanted to hide. I had a few masks I would use to hide behind. I had one foot in church and one foot in my world.  I would go to church every Sunday, sing on the praise and worship team, pray, listen and leave, knowing thinking that I had restored myself - filled a reserve perhaps that would get me through to the following Sunday - until I put my mask on again.  Upon leaving I would reassure myself, knowing I had, once again, given my life to Christ like I had maybe 30 times before. My drive to go to church was to relieve my quilt for the destructive lifestyle I was living. To feel better about the choices I was making - and for awhile - it worked. However, the more that I allowed God's truths to penetrate my heart, the less room there was for the destruction, toxicity, and bad choices. The emptiness I began to feel was heavy and painful and something I couldn't contend with. I cried without tears and longed for peace - Peace that extended beyond Sunday morning. Peace that could only come from hanging up my pretender self and finally being who God was calling me to be.

My question - the one that created a longing to hang up the masks - the one that called me two feet in with reckless abandonment:

"God, there has to be more to this life then broken hearts and an empty soul - something beyond broken promises and unrequited love that leaves me feeling powerful but oh so lonely. So - what is it?" This time in my life, I was desperate for an answer. I cried out to Him and He answered me.  In an audible way,  all He said was, "Be still, Daughter." To me this meant stop trying to look the part and be the part.

For me, I was at the end of a very long, exhausting road when I handed in my masks.  Salvation for me came rushing in like a true promise - Loving a Father who would love me back. This picture was hard for me to grasp. "Girls who need their daddy are weak, girls who need men to support them are pathetic." This mask I wore - this lie - it didn't protect me from being hurt, it kept me away from a Father figure I sorely missed.  A Father that would fight for me. A Father that didn't need me, but wanted me anyway - and that, my friends - was something I so desperately wanted, and because I was ready, and His promises are true (Jeremiah 29:13), my God rushed in and restored my broken heart, assuring me I didn't need to hide behind my pain of not being loved, because I am loved.

When I revisit this time in my life, I think of a sweet friend of mine. I am always indebted to her. Although distance has separated us, she is still so very special to me because this sweet sister in Christ gave me friendship that served as the first positive role model for me. This positive relationship gave me the strength I needed to leave the things of this world behind - the things hindering from grabbing a hold of the relationship God had promised me long ago - the things that held me back from truly experiencing the love of a Father. I always think Satan must have been furious during this time, because the removal of that mask has spiraled into so many beautiful life blessings - ones I would have missed if it hadn't been for her example and her love.

In Jo Ann's book, she speaks of beautiful friends like these.  She says, "Those times we can't believe in ourselves, those are the times we have to hold onto what others believe for us," (Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice). I wish everyone had a friend like the one I speak of.  She believed I could heal and loved me through a lot of really hard stuff, and I will always be grateful.  

I still hide - still occasionally retreat to a pretender version of who God has designed me to be.  I imagine Satan thinks it as a great victory for himself when a woman forgets who God has created her to be, and takes off on a path where she thinks she won't be uncovered.  Hiding feels safe because it gives us the illusion that we are going to be ok as long as no one around us uncovers what we are hiding.  Truth is, "Hiding won't protect our hearts forever. No matter how high our walls, someone will eventually find us," (Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice). For me, that someone was God and because God is so, so good, He also gave me beautiful friends, who wanted better for me.

Hiding is no longer easy for me, and although at times I wish it was, God's design and plan for my life compels me to be honest with those around me when my heart isn't where it should be. God's plan for you, sweet sisters, is to take off your mask and share your struggle.  This design uncovers the lies of Satan in a way that strips him of his power. When we strip him of his power, we begin to heal, when we begin to heal, God is glorified!

What masks are YOU wearing today?  Are you the pretender version of the mom you want to be? Are you struggling with a gossip problem that prohibits you from having authentic relationships? Are you a flatterer? Are you a "perfect homemaker" to everyone else, but a disaster emotionally - working to keep up with the image you are trying to portray?

God wants to heal your heart of your need to hide behind your mask of choice, and I want to hear about what God is doing in your life!

As Jo Ann so eloquently illuminates - derived from her own personal story of God's redeeming love,

"We intend to hide our shortcomings, and the fear inside our heart, but instead we hide our beauty, our true selves." - Jo Ann Fore)

What Beauty of self are you hiding today? 

When A Woman Finds Her Voice 
Life coach and Author - Jo Ann Fore




  1. Beautiful story of shedding your masks. Thank you Michelle.

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  3. Thank you Michelle for sharing this with us!! So nice to be on this journey with you. :) ~ Bobbi -

  4. Bless you...I still struggle with the masks, the expectations that those around me are more comfortable with me in a mask than without, and that God is moving even when I cannot see Him. Thank you so much for this.

    1. Knowing God is in control of the details behind the scenes is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going! Thank you for your comment.

  5. Michelle, rejoicing with you in what God has done, is doing, and will do!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Cheryl, and also for rejoicing with me. Sometimes it feels so lonely after I share my story again, so thank you for commenting. I can barely remember the girl I'm talking about. Love you, sister!