A Devotional By Margot Cioccio
Philippians 1: 19
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
What does your mask cover?
One of my original intents in writing this devotional blog was to in some ways open up my quiet time and life and to I live and walk it more openly. I have been a very private person. I am an expert at turning a conversation away from myself and to keep the focus on the other person. It is a defense mechanism that over the years have used as I watch and decide if I can really trust people. It pretty easy to use because I have found for the most part people are pretty self absorbed and happy to talk about themselves. There are some, I'll call them readers, or watchers, who see right past the thin vainer of my protective mask who take the time to look beyond the surface and to try and understand and know me. Perhaps it is that they are much like me and on the lookout for other safe people. Anyway in my vast wisdom from the school of hard knocks I have discovered that this approach to life can be kind of lonely. Its kind of like being in a room full of people and still being alone. I think some of that come from being an introvert, I have had to learn to be more of an extrovert. I am at this point in my life pretty comfortable around people and able to a much greater degree to be open and honest.
My goal for a while has been to be the same person on the inside and on the outside. To not just be white washed or plaited with a thin metal finish but to be real, solid gold. To be the sold chocolate bunny not the one thats disappointedly hollow on the inside. I would like for people who taste my life to not just bite into wax look alike fruit but to get the real thing. Fruit that is ripe, juicy, satisfying full of the presence of Jesus. I don't just want to put on my best game face and try and look the part of a believer on Sundays, I want to be the real deal.
I've come to realize that the truth is that God is always working on something in all of our lives. There is always something that we are struggling to overcome. We can go through our Christian lives trying to look like we are upstanding kingdom citizens who have it all together. We paint a false picture of phony perfection and as a result don't let anyone get close enough to discover our flaws. We are sure that if they saw our flaws that they would not accept us.
I am learning that if I want a different, deep, honest, real relationships and church culture, that I must model it for others. I have to learn how to not just extend grace to others but to myself as well. We all have our areas of struggles but we don't have to walk through life alone. I believe that to be the church and the spotless bride for Jesus we must learn to walk together. Together me with my missing leg and you with your broken arm, can run the race, we can overcome. The things that are hard for you, are likely to be things that I manage reasonably well and similarly, what is difficult for me is not such a big deal for you. How is it that we become living stones in a spiritual house? Jesus fits us together with others and together we are able to accomplish wonderful and amazing things in our lives and for His kingdom and glory.
Well in my effort to write shorter posts I am going to have to trust that I have given you enough to ponder upon today. I guess my question is are you willing to drop the mask and be open and honest. Are you ready to move from trying to play the part of a "good christian" to simply being a real one. A person who has strengths and weakness, triumphs and massive failures, places you are broken and places you shine for his glory. The very people I think I am helping or at times feel I am carrying often turn out to be the people who have helped me.
I watched a movie called Pay it Forward. It is on my highly recommended movie list. There is a scene where a wandering homeless drug addict comes upon a woman who is ready to jump off a bridge. He tries to talk her down from the ledge. At one point he says to her, come down and save me. He admits that he was on his way to find his next fix and he found her. It was a beautiful example of how we each are broken and often feel overwhelmed by the weight of our own brokenness. In reaching out to each other we are both helped.
Dear Lord, Help us come out from behind our masks what ever they may be. For some those masks cover scars, for others fears, failures, shame, guilt, help us to see that honesty and openness is a beautiful gift we can give to each other. Help us Lord to learn to live together as believers. Help us to be known for our love. Help us to put down our sticks and stones and to move from a defensive, insecure, christian pack mentality to one where we can admit our own brokenness and reach out to others with mercy, grace, compassion and love. Lord help us to see that what has happened to each of us can through your Holy Spirit and prayer for each other turn out for our deliverance.