Why do we wear a mask? Often we are afraid to let people see who we really are. We might fear that if they really knew us with all of our imperfections they wouldn’t love us or accept us. Often we mistakenly believe that other people have it together and it’s just us that have the problems. So we try to get others to see us the way we see them…without problems.
In the last newsletter we talked about the “walking wounded” and outlined the process of healing through Biblical counseling. This month we are going to look more closely at the first step in that outline, taking off the mask. As a framework for this discussion, the following is the outline that was presented last month:
The Process of Healing through Biblical Counseling
Take off the MASK: We need to begin the healing process by being genuine and open about our pain.
Heal the WOUNDS: Just like physical wounds, emotional, spiritual and relational wounds need to be treated and healed.
Remove the TOXINS: Toxins are the false beliefs that result from unhealed wounds and a life of covering our pain with masks.
Replace with TRUTH: The Bible tells us we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We need to examine our life under the light of truth and replace the false and destructive beliefs with those that are true and healthy.
2 CORINTHIANS 3:12-18
12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Does the veil remain for some in your church? Do you struggle with people in your church who just don’t seem to be growing and aren’t realizing the freedom they have in Christ? Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18. We are to be transformed to ever increasing degrees of glory into the image of Christ. “The image of Christ!” That is who we are called to be, if we would just take off the mask and allow God to transform us.
Unfortunately, too often it seems easier to be fake and hide behind various masks that we create to fit each of our roles in life. We chose the mask instead of facing the pain that has occurred in our life. We mistakenly believe that the pain of healing will be worse than the pain that we live with. Unfortunately this pain just seems to grow with each new failure, rejection or hurt. In my 15 years of working with hurting people, not one of them has ever gone through the process of healing and told me it wasn’t worth it. However, I have had many say they wish they had done it years earlier.
It seems so obvious that we need to face our pain and heal, so why do we often not do that. I believe it is because we are deceived. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” I believe it is time to expose this deception and let people know that there is help. At Grace Wellness Center we specialize in helping people find safe ways to take off the mask and begin to face the pain they are covering. Would you join us in this process and make our services available to your church? We would be happy to speak with you and tell you more about our ministry and how we can partner with you. If you would be interested in developing a ministry partnership with us, please contact us at 724-863-7223 or send us an email to learn how to get started with this process (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Something you’ll probably notice if you walk into The Grace Wellness Center or follow any of our social media pages or blogs, is the emphasis on living an abundant life. As Christians, we are called to not just muddle through our days, but to live abundantly. We are born again in Christ, and are promised that God will provide for our needs and has a specific plan for our lives. So why does it seem that so many Christians are just waltzing through life, and struggling to find peace, joy, and purpose? Why are we not thriving?
Simon Peter was a good man. He was an apostle. He walked with Jesus and learned from Him first hand. Peter was the first to see Christ and the only apostle to have an individual meeting with Jesus following the resurrection. He was “the rock” that Jesus trusted to build the early Church. Yet when we look at Peter’s story throughout the Bible, there is a pattern; a pattern that I believe holds true in the lives of many Christians today. Peter couldn’t get out of the way.
Peter had a habit of being impetuous. He often spoke or acted without putting much thought into what he was doing and saying. He let his human emotions and personal thoughts cloud his perception, and he got in the way of God’s will. A good example of this is his questioning of Jesus in Matthew 16:23. Peter rebukes Christ and resists that the Messiah must suffer. Jesus responds by telling Peter, “you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. Other examples of Peter’s struggles include drawing his sword in anger when Jesus was arrested, and denying Christ in the courtyard of the high priest to protect himself. These were both actions that were driven by human emotions and personal thoughts and interests, instead of Spiritual wisdom.
If selfish thoughts and human emotions can trip Peter up, then it’s safe to assume Christians today can be stumped by similar thoughts and emotions. Think about your own life for a minute. In what areas of your life are you getting in the way of God’s will? What is preventing you from living an abundant life? What is preventing you from thriving?
Sometimes life is difficult. We all go through different struggles. Selfishly, we ask God, “why?” Here is something to remember. We only have our own understanding; a human understanding. We are ignorant of God’s plan and ways. We often decide to do what is in our own best interest, which is self-promoting. We interfere with God’s will because of our own limited self-perception, and therefore, we find it difficult to find this abundant life that God promises in Christ. So what can we do? Get out of the way.
Easier said than done, right? How do we get out of the way, start living abundantly and really thriving the way God wants us to? I have an idea on that. Prayer is a vital part of connecting with God. Constantly talking to God and seeking Him, we gain discernment and are able to separate our selfish thoughts and emotions, from His will and His plan for our lives. But even in prayer, many Christians allow their insecurities and negative thoughts to get in the way of their connecting with God, worrying about the right time to pray or what words to say. Scripture gives us guidance on this. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray (the Lord’s Prayer), with the focus being on God’s will coming to fruition. “Thy will be done,” is a powerful prayer that Jesus used even in Gethsemane when He set His own desires aside to accept and become God’s plan of salvation for humanity (Luke 22:42). God has given us a guidebook in the Bible, and an example to live by in Christ. Being in the Word consistently is also important for spiritual growth. God provides examples and stories in the Bible that teach us how to live and how to connect with Him. The more we connect with Him, the more we grow to trust Him, and the easier it becomes to get out of the way.