Do you ever feel like you're wearing a mask? Talia wrote a blog this week about transparency, and it has made me think about the masks we wear. I am pretty much "What you see is what you get," but there are times I feel like I've worn a mask and it has made me feel hypocritical and sneaky. We went to a wonderful Baptist church for several years, and that's where Tom was saved, having sat in other churches for years and feeling no conviction. Within six months in this church, he was examining his heart and his need for a Savior. I love that the Baptists aren't afraid to preach the word and to tell the truth, whether people want to hear it or not.
While in this church, the Lord began dealing with me in a strong way. While the worship songs were song, He would tell me, "Raise your hands and praise me." I would say, "Uh, I guess you haven't noticed, they don't do that here." He would say again, "Raise your hands and praise me." I would once again squirm with "They'll think I'm nuts, I'll get labeled," blah, blah, blah. Once again, he would speak: "If no one follows me, will you follow me?" "Of course I will, Lord, of course I will! Why would you ask me that?" "Well, you can't even raise your hands when I ask you to - what in the world would make me think that you would stand in the face of a crowd, in the face of persecution?"
Each week, this conversation would go on. There were other variations of it, of course. There were other things I was doing that were sneaky while in that church. I carried an NIV Bible - I loved reading the NIV and had read it for years. This church preached against the NIV and held tightly to the King James Bible as the one and only authority. I would carry my Bible with my hand covering the spine so no one would know I was disobeying - one, because I respected and loved those people so much, I never wanted to be disrespectful of their beliefs; and two, because I didn't want them to know that I was disobeying their teachings. As the years went on, I felt like my mask was about to crumble and reveal the real Teresa - and what would be the cost?
As I sat week after week, disobeying what the Lord was telling me, I began to see that I was not only harming myself, I was harming the Spirit in the church - being that Achan like the story in Joshua, the one whose sin was harming the whole group. When I thought about leaving the church, my heart would break - I so loved those people, who they were and all the good they did in the community and in my family. It was a battle, I will tell you. But I had to break the mask somehow, and after weeks of praying, I felt the best thing to do was to bow out quietly, go to a church where I would not be so conflicted and where I could best work for the Lord.
I have to tell you, laying down the mask felt good - really good. There is something about keeping that mask on so tight that is suffocating! I still to this day miss those wonderful people and feel nothing but gratefulness to the church that brought our family together in so many ways, but I never wanted to be a stumbling block to anyone there. It is very interesting how God convicts one person of something and doesn't convict the next Christian of the same thing. Sometimes you wonder if we're talking to the same God. Those are the things that I have just decided not to question - if God tells me something, I'll just listen and not worry about why he isn't telling the person beside me - that is their business.
If you have been feeling unsettled in your walk with the Lord, start with laying the mask down and thanking God for who He made you to be! Once the masks are off, they usually don't get picked back up again....let's be transparent and just love each other (the real person, not the one we pretend to be:)!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.