Growing up, I always remember the fun involved in putting on a costume. Dressing up as an army solider or a rough and tough cowboy was something my imagination could run wild on. As a child, there was little need for extravagant material for these costumes. A simple bandanna over my face and a wooden stick for a gun was all the material I needed to pretend I was the toughest sheriff in town, ready to banish all the bad guys. I would love to put mud on my face and crawl through the woods, pretending I was serving in some kind of infantry, ambushing the enemy in the name of freedom.
I know we all have pictures of the funny get-ups we wore growing up and going to various costume parties. Whether it was the superman cape worn over our pajamas or the cheesy plastic masks worn with the tiny rubber band strap, we all loved the idea of dressing up as someone. It made us feel special. Some of these moments in our childhood have been captured in pictures, and we can laugh at what we thought were great ideas for costumes.
Historically, many people participated in what were known as masquerade balls; lavish parties where costumes were adorned to conceal the real identity of attendees. The mask gave each person the ability to roam through the party without anyone recognizing their true identity. The real person could only by recognized if you got close enough to hear their voice or possibly peer closely into their eyes. Although these parties were designed for fun, in real life, masquerades have become a day to day reality for many people.
Our past hurts can easily drive us in fear to prevent ourselves from ever being hurt again. It teaches us to put up walls that keep outsiders from getting close. One of the biggest walls people put up is a mask, or a fabricated version of themselves. It is not the real and vulnerable person, but a fabricated personality that manifests itself. This has become a socially acceptable wall that is common in our culture.
We all hate hypocrisy and “phoniness,” but each of us needs to confront our own fabrications that we create, where we put up a mask for the world to see.
We end up putting on a show for people.
There are often different masks that we wear, one for each particular environment.
For many people, the fabrication has become so common that they have lost who the real person is under all the plastic and movie makeup.
Examples of Fabrications
Here are some common fabricated personalities or masks that people put on today:
- The Happy Person: no matter what, they are always projecting happiness, even when it doesn’t seem authentic or applicable to the moment.
- The Funny Person: always has a joke or something to laugh at.
- The Professional Person: takes themselves and what they do for work too seriously.
- I Have It All Together Person: never seems to show weakness or vulnerability.
- The Spiritual Person: always has a scripture to say and always appears to be very deep.
- The Social Talker Person: deals with being uncomfortable and insecurities by continuing to talk, even over people.
Walls that Deceive
It is completely acceptable to have healthy guards and boundaries when it comes to relationships. It is also unwise to spill the pearls of our inner life to everyone we meet.
For many, however, healthy, everyday guards have become thick fabrications that keep anyone from ever seeing our hearts. In reality, fabrications keep others from seeing that our hearts are broken, discouraged, lonely and aching for healing.
The fabricated personality reaches into every circle of life, no matter the social framework, economic status or ethnicity.
I remember growing up in the city of Hartford, Connecticut, I watched a lot of kids, even neighborhood friends of mine, grow up in gang environments. I can recall friends as young as ten years old getting involved in selling drugs and engaging in the gang lifestyle. I quickly observed that in order for those kids to get accepted into the posse, they had to manifest a certain way of speaking, dressing and acting that conformed to the culture. They had to play the role and put on the mask to be accepted. This fabricated personality became their “swagger,” a way of showing the other members they had a fearless bravado, when in reality they were scared to death underneath.
This is a simple example of a fabricated personality. It would be too humiliating and “uncool” for those in gang environments to show that deep down, there was intense brokenness and hurt inside. Just as the Wall Street executive covers up his brokenness with a fabricated impression that he is on top of the world, a gang member uses his mask to prove that he is not broken, but powerful, brave and untouchable.
Do not let the facade fool you – no matter how tough or strong someone appears to be, their rock hard exterior is probably covering up some deep, internal wounds.
The Fabricated Walls Create a Prison
Our fabricated personalities seem to be good protective mechanisms at first. We keep people away while developing a temporary sense of safety. Our personalities have been deceived into feeling this is a safe way to live. We end up believing the walls are a fortress to keep us strong, when in reality, they are the lining to what has become a prison cell of bondage.
We have been trained (most often unknowingly) to put up walls and at the end of the day, no one knows the real you.
I interact with a lot of people where I want to knock on the door and ask, “Can the real person please show up? I’ve talked to about four other fabrications, but can I talk to the real you?”
In addition, fabricated masks contribute to diseases that break down our health. When we do not live freely in who we are, we force our anatomy to work in a way that is inconsistent with who God designed us to be. In order to walk someone through the healing of a disease, we have to first help them bring the walls of fabrication down and remove the masks.
Many have no idea how to get out of their fabrications.
They have lived for so long presenting a false self to the world, they have no clue how to return to who God truly made them to be. They end up living as posers, never walking in their true self and always keeping people at a distance, while their brokenness festers under the painted masquerade.
Masks . . . Fabricated Personalities . . . Walls . . . Posers. These words all speak to protective mechanisms we use as survival techniques.
But God does not just want us to just survive, He wants us to live abundantly and freely!
Yet the only way we can truly live free is to begin to confront our phoniness and allow God to authentically work in our hearts. We have to be willing to put the mask down, because God will not bless a fabrication. Confronting the prison of our “fake fronts” is the only way out.
Get to the “Why?”
Why do we wear these fabricated masks?
It does not make logical sense, because we love it when other people are real and authentic. Our eyes well up in tears and our hearts flood open when someone is vulnerable and shares their heart.
We are actually drawn to those who let their guard down and share their real self. At the same time, however, we still go back into the enemy’s bag of tricks and put on our fabrications. There are some reasons for this.
Reason #1: We were not loved and accepted as our true self.
The biggest reason we do not live in the freedom of our true self and give over to a counterfeit personality is that we were not loved in our real personality. It usually goes back to childhood, where a mask got strapped onto us that we have been wearing ever since.
This occurs very early in life; we quickly learn to adapt to what brings us acceptance. We are never comfortable with our true self, because we never experienced love, acceptance and validation in just being ourselves. Therefore, even though adopting another personality involves a lot of labor, it is often more appealing.
Reason #2: We Do Not Like Who We Are
It takes brute honesty to admit this one. If we can get real with ourselves, a big reason why we fabricate, wear masks and live like posers is because we do not truly like who we are.
Many people have lived their entire lives wanting to be someone else, and not wanting to settle into who God made them to be. Whenever we do not love, accept and cherish who God created us to be, we then scan the world looking for someone else to be like. We mimic their mannerisms or develop their idiosyncrasies, hoping we can maybe “wow” the world as they do. Yet, during all this, we are rejecting the beauty of ourselves and the significance of God’s vision for us on this planet.
Reason #3: Fear of Exposure
A little bit of fear and a little bit of pride train us to keep people from seeing our weak areas. We fear being exposed. The thought that fear perpetuates is that people will find out who you really are inside, or they may see that you are not always who you say you are.
As human beings, we hate to see our weaknesses exposed. We show our strengths and celebrate them, but keep the weak parts behind closed doors.
We all long for authenticity, but we have to remember that authenticity means that what you see is what you get. When you are authentic, image and character are the same. You don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. This does not mean you wear all your problems and weaknesses for the world to see, but it does mean you are not going out of your way to hide them, nor are you one person to a certain group and a different person to another group.
Our world thrives off of the celebration of people’s strengths, this means there is very little room given for weakness. As a result, we hide the weaknesses and sin issues in darkness, hoping they will either go away or get removed magically. Either way, we pray they never get seen.
The Scriptures tell us what living inauthentic lives is compared to:
Fervent lips with a wicked heart are like earthenware covered with silver dross. He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself. Proverbs 26:23-24
Talk is cheap, but a fabrication makes it even cheaper. One of the greatest tragedies is found in a person who is lost and in need, but is still pretending and putting on a facade.
For men, this can be an easy thing to do. We love to hide behind whatever macho mask we can develop. It may not be muscles. It could be intelligence, intimidation or even anger. Ladies, anytime you meet a man who is distant, he is not macho. He is simply scared to death.
In fact, while I am picking on the men, males are notorious for not being able to commit in relationships. The primary reason goes something like this, “If I let you get really close, then you will see the real me, with my flaws and weaknesses. And I am afraid you will reject me.” This leads us to the next reason we wear fabricated masks.
Reason #4: Fear of Rejection
Just like a young teen who wants to join a gang, there is a deep need to be accepted and validated that all of us carry. Any root of rejection will also bring along a fear of rejection. The lie that drives the fear of rejection is, “If I show you who I really am, and you don’t like me, that’s all I’ve got and it’s tough luck for me. I don’t have a ‘plan B’ person I can pull out of a hat.”
Who do you fear rejection from the most?
The list usually involves those who have the greatest influence over our thinking, including parents, friends, teachers, coaches and bosses. Who do you want to impress the most? This is often where your fabrications will operate.
Our world lives in a continual fear of what other people think. It drives our fabrications in every way; how we dress, speak and behave. We have this problem because there is a need to be loved that rejection is messing with.
Rejection has promised to fill that void and has programmed us to be extra sensitive to what people think, because they have become our primary love source. We begin to alter our lives and who we are, simply to avoid rejection from another person and hopefully gain their acceptance.
Reason #5: Fear of Being Hurt Again
Fear teaches us to keep people at a distance, so as not to experience hurt ever again. Defensiveness arises because we are hypersensitive to pain.
The more we give into the thoughts and impressions of lies, the more defensive we become. The more defensively we live, the more inauthentic our lives become.
If we continue to buy the lies of the enemy, we will become stuck relationally, and the pain of our wounds will torment us for the rest of our lives. The ability to give and receive love will be squeezed right out of us. Over the long haul, these unresolved hurts will cause our heart to become hardened, numb and unreachable. Wherever you create a fabrication of yourself, is a place where you were hurt the most or fear being hurt the most.
People often avoid deeper fellowship because they don’t want to be exposed and hurt again. But when we avoid real fellowship, we lose our ticket for true freedom. That is not living at all, but barely even existing. So the question for you today is, “What will you do with your past hurt?”
God Does Not Anoint Fabrications
In a culture that admires flashy power and impressive charisma, we must be reminded that God does not anoint your fabrications. He anoints the real you! The problem is that most of us do not even know who the real “me” is! That is why it is so important to move from fabricated to authentic as soon as possible. The longer you delay this, the longer you will struggle to know who you are as God created you to be.
God will not heal you unless you learn to get real with Him. You can’t lie to God so quit trying. While you do that, learn to stop lying to your brothers and sisters around you. They see your fabrications anyway, so go ahead and pull the protective walls down.
Jesus confronted the religious fabrications of the Pharisees everywhere He went. The exterior that they projected was not matching the internal condition of their heart. By contrast, Jesus was eager to help very broken people who outwardly admitted their inward bondage. The difference? One kept the darkness hidden with a masquerade, while the other opened up their heart and lowered the facade to allow God to heal them.
God uses you most when you are just yourself. This may not be flashy and it may not make impressive newspaper headlines, but it moves the winds of heaven when a believer simply shows up and lives out of authenticity. God not only uses us in our weaknesses, He loves when we don’t try to hide them. In fact, those who do not try to fabricate and hide their weaknesses, He uses even more than others!
Problems With Fabricated Masks
- It’s exhausting, because it takes so much extra energy to wear them.
- Over time, you eventually lose sight of who you really are.
- People do not receive the blessing of you being yourself.
- People cannot support you in your weaknesses.
- They prevent people from having intimate interactions.
- The true power of God does not have room to shine through your life.
You will have to do business with these masks and remove them if you are going to walk in wholeness and live effectively in this world.
What fabrications have come up in your life that keep you from living as your authentic self?
What keeps you from confronting those masks and allowing yourself to experience greater transformation.
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