Yesterday, I picked up the mail and dropped it in my purse…and just now realized that a book I ordered arrived and was sitting in my purse, unwrapped. It’s 4:18pm. I have just finished up a conversation with my sales manager and am heading back to my desk to unwrap my book. A new friend of mine suggested I read the “Rebuilding – When your Relationship Ends” by Dr. Bruce Fisher and Dr. Robert Alberti. My “picker” has been off since my divorce and my choices have not been ideal, so reading a book sounds awesome right about now.
Opening this recycled book and glancing inside the front cover, I find someone has already suggested three pages to read. Curious, I turn to the first and there I find it’s about “openness” and hiding behind masks, i.e. a false face. It is your internal feeling and how you want the outside world to see you. Some masks are appropriate and some are inappropriate; masks protect you from emotional pain but wearing a mask takes a great deal of energy. Masks distance you emotionally from others, keeping you from building intimate relationships. When the mask is removed, one may find intimacy rather than pain.
Spiritual violation and manipulation have been on my mind recently. Where is the transparency, trust, and integrity? Why do people hide behind smoke and mirrors? How do you know who is walking the walk? “Walking the walk” can look differently depending on your situation, but in this case I am talking about walking the walk with Jesus. Being a brother or sister in Christ, behaving as Christ would, and treating others as He has asked us to do.
I know you’re trying to connect the dots here, so let’s tie all this together: I am a child of sexual abuse, a teenager of rape, and a wife/mother of an abusive relationship.
After my divorce, I decided to date differently and ask the right questions from the start: Do you know Jesus, do you have a relationship with Jesus, and do you love Jesus? In my lifetime, I’ve had many who said they knew Jesus, answering “yes” to all of the above only for me to find out they did not know Jesus. It’s a daily walk and daily relationship with him that matters to me. At 45 years old, it’s a deal breaker.
So, what happens when you believe with all your heart you are on the right path? You have prayed for God to bring the right person into your life. Life is tough and full of hard-earned lessons. Sometimes you learn that just because someone says, “I LOVE JESUS,” it may not mean they are living with transparency, trust, and integrity.
They may be hiding behind an “I LOVE JESUS” mask.
As I am savoring single parenthood, my mind and soul are searching for more. Reading through media sites and realizing people communicate only by written word these days discourages me; it has been my experience that nobody talks on the phone anymore.
Texting has become the new way to “talk,” which can be so misleading and easily misread. Texting or answering questions on a dating website seems all a bit silly—what happened to calling someone on the phone and asking for coffee? A person can become anything they want in a text or on a social media site. My girlfriends and I call them “posers.” I struggle with separating the “posers” from the real truth.
With my recent dating experience, I believed I was dating a 49 year old with an MBA—a strong Christian leader, honest, respected in his community, truthful with high morals and integrity. When I sit now and reread through text messages, I realize from the beginning masks were everywhere. What I believed to be true on paper did not add up in reality. Who leads a Christian organization if they are not representing the above qualities? To how many masks had I been exposed? It took me six months for the light bulb to turn on in my head. When I confronted him about this, he said goodbye. (By text – smile…because no one talks on the phone anymore.)
That was difficult, but my biggest struggle? I feel as if I’ve been spiritually violated.
Throughout our relationship, I prayed daily for him. I’m a strong woman of faith and prayer is not even a question for me. Then he went on a three week mission trip to Africa and fell ill, so I prayed for his health, safety, and well-being. Upon his return from the mission trip, he was not the man I thought I was dating. The mask had been removed, and I was hurt, confused, and felt as if I had been used for “discernment prayers.” My heart, today is still hurting by this violation, manipulation of my benevolence.
Lessons learned. When someone shouts their faith a little too loud, you may be dealing with a mask.
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NASB