Rejection 18 – Masking

Another Rejection response is to Mask pain and put on a False Front. It’s a self-defence mechanism, to protect our pride.

The Pride of Life is one of three human worldly motivators, along with the Lust of the Flesh and Lust of the Eyes. So people instinctively hide the truth if it will damage their image in the eyes of others.

Denial

The urge to deny our weakness, failings or vulnerabilities is ubiquitous. Little children start young, with “I didn’t do it, Mummy!” I recall seeing one child drop something, pick up the broken pieces and go straight to his Mum saying, “I didn’t break it!” No-one needed to teach the child to deny the unpleasant truth.

The force of denial leads to self-delusion, fantasy thoughts and the like. But for the purposes of our Rejection study denial is the force that prompts people to place a mask over their hurt and failure.

The Cover Up

I recall approaching a house and hearing a heated argument inside. When I knocked all went quiet. The door opened and a smiling face greeted me as if there was nothing wrong.

Have you ever had to answer the phone in the midst of an argument or upset?  People can be shouting in argument, then pick up the phone and speak sweetly to their caller. A mask is placed over the problem or the heated moment, to keep it from others.

Rejected people, despite their personal pain, share that same instinct to cover up their unhappy lot. They learn to put on a smile, project an air of confidence, push down their unhappy feelings and give the impression that all is fine.

The False Front

The cartoon I use to describe masking our pain with a false front is that of a deeply inferior person projecting a different image onto the screen of their life. Rather than letting others see how miserable they feel, they give off the false front of a happy and confident person.

Reject 18 Masking

Sadly, most people live with some degree of masking. In a minimal level it is simply covering up a mistake, overlooking a weakness, or diverting people’s attention from things they don’t want openly known.

At the most extreme level a person can become completely false. Their whole life can become one of living a lie. They can hide just about everything about them.

Professional Front

Keeping up appearances is part of life in some fields. The old saying, “The Show Must Go On!” speaks to how performers must squash down their pain, skip onto stage and perform as if the personal issues that may have just bombarded them don’t exist.

Professionals in business need to maintain a professional front, not showing their despisement of their associates, clients, bosses or company policy. Politicians can argue behind closed doors then emerge as best of buddies, so the cameras convey the desired image.

Doctors, counsellors and others have to maintain a ‘public face’ in dealing with their clients, as part of their professionalism.

The Ministry Smile

Mid last century the idea of giving away a “smile” became popularised in Christian circles. In some churches the “ministry smile” took on Biblical standing as a ministry obligation. While always smiling affirmation at people has a natural sweetness about it, I personally found it quite annoying.

What troubled me was that it became a form of False Front. It was a professional “mask”, which successfully hid the true feelings from others. But it also became a barrier to genuine personal contact. Christians in ministry moved one step further away from those they met, because the Smiling Mask was artificially applied. Rather than people meeting on a more real level, they met as professional and client.

The Ministry Smile mask caused me to feel unsure of the friendly relationships which were offered me. I was sure that so many people could not all be so deliriously happy to meet me. I suspected that some of them might have liked to tell me they disagreed with something I taught, or had personal concerns they needed to discuss. Instead, all I ever met was that blasted smile.

Personal PR Front

An Australian pastor visited a friend in the USA many years ago and complemented his friend on the quality of the church members. The Aussie said, “I wish I had people like this in my church back home.” His American counterpart confided in him, “These people are exactly the same as yours, with exactly the same problems, but they have learned how to put on a front to cover it all up!”

Sadly, image has become a major consideration in life today. People want to have the right “look”. Their “front” or mask is usually much more carefully crafted and maintained than their grandparents ever thought necessary. More expensive beauty enhancements are used. Men now put product in their hair. People now inject botox into their skin, and have plastic surgery, while faking their hair colour.

Is there anyone out there who is not afraid to be who they are?

Glorious Liberty

Christians don’t need masks. People who are free don’t need masks. Why would you put a false front over a beautiful view?

When we enter into our glorious liberty (wonderful freedom) as God’s children we can throw the masks away. Our pain is healed. Joy fills our heart. The smile on our dial beams from a heart that is full and strong.

Then, when we are under pressure, we can be open and honest about it. We don’t need to keep up a PR image. We are not “marketing” ourselves, but simply BEING ourselves. We can share our realness with other people’s reality, and bless them by our inner wholeness.

People with “liberty” are not afraid to go grey, grow old, admit they don’t know something, laugh at their mistakes, publicly share their failures as a lesson for others and live un-intimidated lives.

A Culture in Fear

While I can understand Rejected people feeling great pressure to cover up their pain, why do others feel such pressure to lie about themselves? Who is it that intimidates them so powerfully?

It seems we have a whole culture that has come under the tyranny of fear. The fear of rejection and being put down by the culture itself seems to drive perfectly valuable people to live as if they need others to affirm them.

I pray that God so heal our culture that it celebrates His grace, lives in His presence and radiates the glorious liberty that only comes from Him.

The Children’s Bread

Citizens of any nation have a special status, based on their inherited right, or chosen right for those who take on citizenship. Jesus Christ celebrated that special status, so it is enshrined in political reality. Sadly we are seeing an erosion of this special status, so it is timely to investigate our God-endorsed rights.

Children

Jesus Christ spoke of the natural national citizens as “children”.

On one occasion Peter made a mistake in his encounter with the administrators of his day. Peter was approached and asked if his master paid tribute money. Peter unwisely said that he did. Jesus then challenged Peter about Peter’s thinking on this matter.

“When they came to Capernaum those that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. And when he came into the house Jesus detained him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Who do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute from? Is it from their own children, or from strangers? Peter said to him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the children are free. However, so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast an hook, and take up the first fish that comes up; and when you open his mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that, and give to them for me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27

Why Children

Every citizen is a ‘child’ of the cultural family to which he or she belongs. That is significant and I will probably discuss that point in more depth at some other time.

Suffice it to say right now that what starts as a ‘family’ really should stay as a family. However, what tends to happen is that our leaders stop being ‘fathers’ to us and become greedy brothers and sisters who sell out the ‘family’ for personal status and reward.

Good government does not penalise its own family, but rewards it. Good government creates a wonderful environment for its own children. Good government then taxes the foreigners (“strangers” in the words of Jesus) for using the resources that really belong to the children.

Oh that it were so in our nations today!

In many western nations today the foreign entities can operate within the country with great tax advantages and privileges, while the children are heavily taxed to pay for the borrowings of their leaders (their ‘fathers’?) who have placed them in an unhappy place of national penalty.

Hmmmm…..

The Children’s Bread is for the Children

Jesus spoke of ‘children’ in a political sense on another occasion. He spoke to a foreigner who was seeking His power for a family need. In that conversation with the Syrophenician woman Jesus affirmed His personal calling to the nation of Israel. His power, miracles and grace were intended for the nation of Israel.

Israel was by that time a nation that had existed for more than a millennium. It is easy to forget, after such a long time, that the nation is really a ‘family’. The original children of Israel were the literal children of a man named Israel. As the families grew over successive generations the ‘children’ grew in number to be a national entity in their own right. But they were still ‘children’ of Israel.

In political terms this foreigner was not a member of the family of Israel. Rather than being a child in the family she was something else, like a family pet. Jesus pointed this out by saying that it was not right for Him to take what belonged to the children and to give it to the dog.

While Jesus’ comments sound offensive to our ears it is important to note two things. The woman was not upset. She recognised that His statement was true. She was outside the Kingdom and had no right to the things she requested. She was not a child of Abraham or a descendent of Jacob (Israel). Jesus’ words were not an insult, but a statement of truth acknowledged by the woman herself.

Further to that, Jesus was happy to hear her appeal and expression of faith and to grant her what she asked.

She said (in essence), “It is true that I am a dog, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which are dropped by the children. Since not all of your blessings will be enjoyed by the children you can spare one of the crumbs for me.”

“a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she begged him that he would cast the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not right to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. And she answered and said to him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the devil is gone out of your daughter. And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Matthew 7:25-30

Your Bread

We have seen that Jesus used the notion of ‘children’ to speak of both political realities (paying tribute) and spiritual realities (claiming the blessings belonging to God’s people).

You too are a child and have your own bread. So, what is your bread? What is it to which you have political and spiritual right?

As a citizen of your nation and culture you are entitled to the freedoms and protections afforded to you. You should not be abused by the fathers of your culture and nation. They should be providing you the special blessings which you are entitled to as a member of the family.

As a child of God you are entitled to an amazing range of spiritual and practical blessings reserved for the ‘children’. In fact, you have the right to walk and live in a state that is described as ‘glorious liberty’ (wonderful freedom), as God’s child.

“Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21

I encourage you to enjoy the bread that is yours, both politically and spiritually. You are fully entitled to those blessings and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve them so that your own children can enjoy them as well.