I used to wish God had created humans without the gift of sight.
Vision is wonderful in many regards — for reading, learning, enjoying nature — but it is also a hindrance. The eyes work to our detriment and to society’s when used inappropriately.
Maybe that’s why the producers of the television show “The Voice,” when designing the show, chose to eliminate judges’ vision from the equation while listening to contestants. Unlike on “American Idol,” the judges get to fall in love with a voice without seeing the instrument God used to create the captivating sound, and the auditioner needs only to sing to their heart’s content, wooing the judge with nothing more than their voice. The vessel from which the melodious sound is emitted is not judged.
Nevertheless, we are created with sight. God gifted us with all of our senses so we can explore all of the wonders of this beautiful world. But leave it up to us to pervert what is good.
Since God knows when, I have sought love through perfectionism. I believed to gain approval I needed to stand up straight, smile pretty, behave myself, and be a good girl. A perfect girl. Barraged by the media with air-brushed photos of “beautiful” people and images of those who somehow “deserved” the same love that I sought after, the enemy would weasel his way into my brain to belittle and degrade me, telling me that I wasn’t acceptable and that the only way I would experience love is by stepping up my game. So I worked harder. If I was the “winner,” certainly the prize would be love, and the harder I worked to be loved, the worse I felt. I was on a gerbil wheel that spun wildly out of control, and all I could see were my inadequacies.
I continued to adopt the lie and invented new ones like, “If you don’t achieve a certain financial status, you’re a failure. If you don’t bend over backward to make people happy, they won’t love you.” I would bite my lip when I had something to say for fear of disappointing, and agree with others in order to gain their acceptance and admiration.
I veiled myself with a mask so others couldn’t see who I really was, because if they knew who I really was, they might — and sometimes did — discard me. Flaws, failure, and imperfection meant sure rejection, and that wasn’t acceptable to me. I worked so hard at being who I thought everyone else wanted me to be that I lost myself.
But I continued to wear a beautiful mask. I was a pleasant, loving, kind, goal-oriented achiever and sickeningly syrupy sweet. People thought I had it all together, but I was slowly deteriorating and crumbling inwardly. I was allowing imperfect man to decide if I was perfect enough to love.
One day a dear friend of mine said to me, “You know, Pam, if you wear a mask, the mask gets the love, not you.”
The truth made the ground beneath my feet shift.
The problem is that the attention received by being “perfect” is not real love, not the kind of love that God gives; it is fickle, conditional, and demanding. There becomes a never-ending striving because the ante is upped. The bar is continually raised.
“So what would happen if you were real?” she asked.
My own answer scared me. “People wouldn’t accept me. They wouldn’t want me in their lives. They wouldn’t love me.” But …
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
I had been giving my attention to and loving the wrong things, making idols out of and fearing standards and imperfect man. My mask needed to come off.
Page after page of the Bible told me the stories of people who didn’t measure up, those who tried to hide their misdeeds from an omniscient God. And, story after story, I read of how God accepted as His own each flawed person. David, the woman at the well, Peter, and countless others — all of them flawed and no better or no worse than me — God created, just as they were, and chose to love.
I removed my mask without fear. He already knew what I looked like underneath the mask and loved me anyway … simple, imperfect, quirky, flawed me.
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Pam Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. When she is not spending her time as a freelance court reporter, you will find her loving up her adorable cocker spaniel, hiking, traveling, writing creative nonfiction, or working out. Her passion is sharing her story so others can join her in celebrating the freedom found in a redemptive Savior.