Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking off The Mask

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Taking off the Mask - a work in progress by Margot
We are all lepers. Even if we hide our sores under the finest clothes, and lie to each other, to convince ourselves that we are healthy and happy... Forgetting the only real reason we should be happy: that God loves us, despite the sores we hide. God loves us so much that He became one of us, and was nailed naked to the cross, showing His sores to the world. -St. Francis 

I have just started on a new painting called Taking off the Mask. We are doing a new prayer loft installation. This one is called Transformations. The idea came from a divine appointment kind of unexpected conversation. I happened to be talking to a young woman who attend my church. I've talked to her other times but its always been about music. Somehow our conversation this time moved to art. I guess I must have asked what classes she was taking. I was surprised that she was taking art classes. She shared with me how they were making masks. I asked if she might be interested in helping with the next prayer loft. At the time I was at a loss for a theme or a direction. I went home that day and just kept thinking about masks. 

We all wear them, some of us put them on for various occasions others live in them just about all the time. I suppose I can really identify with the concept of hiding behind one's mask because I spent a lot of years putting on the mask and playing the part I thought various people expected of me. Eventually it became confusing and I started to loose track of the real me. 

“No man, for any considerable period, 
can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, 
without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” 
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

I have had conversations with others who are mask wearers and wall builders. They want to stay safe and to not be hurt by people. Sometimes they fear if anyone really knew them they would not want to know them. Isolation seems to be the answer. 

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
James Arthur Baldwin 

My painting has a long way to go still. I think I can honestly say that I don't were my masks much anymore. It took courage to ask Jesus to help me to take down the walled fortresses that I had built and to be the same person inside and out. It has taken courage to allow people to see my flaws. I have discovered that as I have taken down my walls and taken off my masks that I have discovered that there are a lot of people just like me. Probably just like you. Fighting the same feelings of insecurity, trying to cover up the cracks and brokenness. 

I'm not sure I have the whole message worked out at this point. It is the love and acceptance of Jesus that helps us to be able to take off the mask. He sees us as we really are. Some times our masks are not so much about hiding shame and brokenness but about putting on our game face. You know, you go to church in your Sunday best. That not just your clothes its often your best mask too. You try to act the part of the good, got it all together Christian. 

We all have good days and bad days. We all have days when the Spiritual and life battles become terrifying. We have days when we are discouraged or confused. I'm not saying to throw your precious pearl to the pigs. I am saying the more I take the mask off and allow people to know me the more I find that I am not alone. We all struggle with similar kinds of things. To listen, love and care does not necessarily mean you need to have the answer or even be able to fix what is broken in someone else. What we do need to do is remind others that our God is way bigger than any of our problems. We need to pray for one another. Confess our sins to one another. Learn to be honest with each other. Learn to be led by the Holy Spirit so that we are quick to respond when our heart is moved to help in some way.
Masks seem to be kind wrapped in a kind of paradox. You want to hide behind them but on the other hand you desperately wish someone would notice you.  

I found this quote by songwriter Rich Mullins. 
Some of us are so afraid that God's not going to look at us. So we're out there doing all sorts of things to get God to take notice, but folks, God notices you. The fact is, He can't take His eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you. God is in love with you. Some of us even fear that someday we'll do something so bad that He won't notice you anymore. Well, let me tell you, God loves us completely. And He knew us at our worst before He ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God, there are no degrees, there is only love.-Rich Mullins

In my painting the face behind the mask will have cracks and look sort of like a broken porcelain doll. Matthew West's song talks about broken girls but boys get broken too.
The other two are songs I found that I hope will encourage you to allow Jesus to take your mask and to begin healing the places that are broken in you. I suppose weather it is a broken heart or a broken self image, we all need the compassionate hand of Jesus to reach out and meet us in our darkness. Anyway my painting tend to evolve or my understanding of them does as I work on them. This one seems to be about God's willingness to heal our broken self image if we will trust him and give him the mask. He already knows your every brused and broken place. I hope you will let him come in and let the healing begin. 

Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

There are three videos included with this post. I have embedded them and also included links for my e-mail readers. You may still need to click on the post title to get back to my site to see them. I try to test these on various devices and I noticed on my i phone that I had trouble opening the videos yesterday. So I'm also including the links. 

Broken Girl by Matthew West

The Healing Has Begun

Cry of the Broken 

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