Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Masquerade

Ahem . . . . Ahem . . . . is this thing on? Uh, yeah, hi, I mean, my name is Katie and uh . . . . . . .
ok this is hard for me to say but I’m just gonna say it . . . . . . . .

Yep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I’m gonna say it . . . . . . . . .

I'm not who I pretend to be

What? You didn’t hear me? Ok . . . . . .

I'm not who I pretend to be

You still can’t hear me? Fine . . . . .

I’M NOT WHO I PRETEND TO BE

I’m weak; I’m broken; I don’t have it all under control; I’m scared; I doubt; I falter again and again; I’m not perfect; I’m not even close; I struggle; I stumble; and yes I fall.

My name is Katie and I play a good part and I wear lots of masks but when you strip them all away what you find is me; just broken down, beaten up me.

And yes it is so easy to say, “I don’t have it all together” when we’re talking in theory. It is so easy to encourage others when they hint at this vulnerability, this honesty.

But will we say it ourselves? Will we admit it to the world? Can we stand up in front of everyone we are trying so hard to impress and lay ourselves bare and say, “Hey, you, everyone, I don’t have it all figured out, I’m screwed up, REALLY SCREWED UP and it is a struggle every stinking day. It’s not just hard but it is some times so defeating that I’m not sure I can even make it. And I know that I look all shiny and good and in control but that is just an act I put on for you because I think you want to see it, that you need to see it or you will run far away from me, or you will judge me (or better yet I will judge myself) for not living up to this completely ridiculous standard of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.”

I wrote this the other day out of frustration:

Appearance of strength, of togetherness, of contentment and yet it is all a mask, a vapor of something that isn’t true. Keeping up appearance is so tiring. To not be what you want to be, to not be what you know you should be, it is defeating. To admit that you are broken, that you are pained, that you are needy. Admitting your weakness, admitting your inadequacy, your utter failure at being that which everyone thinks you are.

Scared that they only like what they see, what is easy, what is not true. Can they handle the truth; are they willing to stay through the waves of the storm? The pressure to be what is easy to love, what is likeable, what is attractive. So scared that the realness of you will leave you left alone. So you wear the mask, you play the game, you hide behind the smiles, the laughter, the lie. Because the truth isn’t pretty, the truth isn’t easy. But the truth is real, it is what you go home with at night, it is who you are when you are stripped bare, it is you.

But I feel like I need to be all these things, to be “that” person that I don’t even know, “that” person that is so easy to love, so easy to be around. “That” person isn’t real though, she is a figment of my imagination, a creation of my expectations, the expectations I think others have for me. When did I stop being me and started being “she”? When did I start believing the lie that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t worth the time, the effort?

But wait, if I feel this way, if I’m struggling so much to play the part, to wear the mask, how many other people feel the same way? How many of my friends, of those that I say I love, have I driven to play a part, to be something they aren’t because they fear how I will see them?

Oh what have we done? What have I done? When did I start perpetuating the lie, encouraging it in others, silencing their cries, not letting them be who they are?

Are we all living lives of fear and performance? Are we all wearing masks and playing parts?

How did this happen?

Now I’m not saying that we all should walk around wallowing in a “woe is me” mentality. There is joy in life, there is laughter, there is victory, but there is also pain, and struggles, and tears. Life is made up of all of these things. It is a beautiful compilation of all that we are, both the good and the bad. It is real, it is honest, it is life.

The problem is that we’ve all bought into the lie that we’re supposed to be a certain way.
And the ironic thing is that I’m pretty sure we’re all just waiting for someone else to admit they are as lost and broken as we are. We’re frozen in fear that if everyone plays the game and everyone wears the mask then we have to also. It is a desperate cycle of trying so hard to be what everyone else wants when really it is only your perception of what they want.

A friend recently told me “you don’t have to be bullet proof”. Those were hard words to read because I want to be bullet proof, I desperately want to be immune from the reality of life, but I’m not, we’re not. And I’m realizing that every time I choose to put on that mask and I choose to play the part, I am lying, and worse I may be leading other people to take up their masks, to join in this pitiful performance, and that makes me hurt.

I head this song over the weekend and it fit perfectly with what I have been thinking.

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

‘Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
It I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hid our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the alter for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay


Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns


So the microphone is open . . . . . . anybody want to say something?

25 Comments:

Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Did it actually take you this long to figure out that you're human?

11/08/2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Ummm.. Hi. My name is Stephanie, and I'm a stuff-o-holic. I stuff my realities, I stuff my evils, I stuff stuff stuff. My mask is so polished that it sometimes convinces me too.

Katie: You're reading my mind again. Quit it. Well, actually, don't quit it. You again, are ministering to my heart like you would never believe. Thank you for being so real and honest, and laying yourself out there for (like BWH said) all the other human beings to relate to. I don't think there's a single one of us that can't relate to this in some way or another. Katie, you're brilliant, and your heart is so amazing... please don't forget that.

11/08/2005 10:38 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

BWH - no, I've known that I'm human my whole life but can you honestly tell me you don't fall into this trap. I don't believe that any of us are that secure or comfortable in/with ourselves.

My point is that we've all accepted this mask wearing or game playing or whatever as common place and natural and it isn't and the pain and the frustration and the effect it has on us and those around us is destructive.

11/08/2005 10:44 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Yeah, trying to make things that aren't real appear real will make you VERY tired. Perpetual jet-lag upon arrival home can kill.

When I was a new Christian, one of my church members came up to me and told me that he thought I had been Christian for much longer than I had. I am still not sure that is a compliment.

A book I am reading for the second time in two weeks tells about a patient who is seeing a therapist about her depression.

Therapist: "So you seem to be pretty hard on yourself when you gain weight, drop things, or yell at the kids."

Patient: "No one likes a fat, clumsy, angry mom."

Therapist: "They don't?"

He goes on to expose the fact that she believing a lie about how she has to be in order to be loved by others. He makes the point that we don't have a great feeling about people who come off seeming "perfect," but we still try to appear perfect.

I really don't like to be imperfect, and would usually rather break a relationship than face the ugly things I've done in it. Even something as simple as the infamous fart-on-command incident can make me doubt my standing in a group of friends.

To give proper credit, the book is "The Lies We Believe" by Chris Thurman, and I will stop mentioning it on people's blogs now. Probably. :)

11/08/2005 11:13 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Eric - great insight, I may have to check out that book.

To put your mind at ease, no offense or assumptions made about you in regards to your special talent. I laughed, it was funny and very entertaining.

11/08/2005 11:17 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

sweeeeet. :)

I think I will call it my "special talent" from now on.

11/08/2005 11:42 AM  
Blogger jes said...

eric. i really think i should check out that book.

katie. what? you mean you don't have it all together? does that mean that I'M THE ONLY ONE?

gosh, i'm all alone now. there doesn't seem to be anyone around. the beating of my heart is the only sound...

11/08/2005 12:04 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Though the other side
may try and try
to bring me down with all the lies
I wont faulter
and I wont fall
away from You
the Lord of all
Nothing ever will stop
Your love from shining through

In times where you seem far away
I have to lift my voice and say
I trust you
I love you
I need you
I praise you
and fall to my knees
as your love comes shining through

11/08/2005 12:13 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Steve - I don't even have to ask do I? You wrote that, just now. Wow.

11/08/2005 12:29 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

My name is Jayleigh and I am a fraud.

What you see on my blog is what I aspire to be, fake name and all.

Inside, I'm just Jenny.

Gawky and awkward, crooked teeth and freckles. Stammering in speech, and not the brightest light on the tree.

I'm broken down, I'm nothing. Beat up, used up, left over, crummy, cruddy, bad attitude, grouchy, impatient, filthy excuse for a friend, for a Christian.

What you've sparked in me today, Miss K-T is this:

I know that my purpose is Youth Ministry. I have such a heart for children and teens who feel like they don't measure up, and that "everyone else" has an easier time of it.

I have told my goddaughters and nieces and nephews from an early age that if it looks like someone is prettier, smarter, better, and has it all together when you're just a crummy piece of nothing, then they are a better actor than you. They put on a bigger smile, when inside they're dying just like you.

Thanks for driving this home to ME today too.

**hugs**

You have such a beautiful heart, Katie.

11/08/2005 12:59 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

VERY Beautiful Steve: I couldn't help but think though, "Shouldn't it have said, 'as your love COMETH shining through'"? lol

Sorry.. I just got done responding to Steve's comment on my site. He cracks me up, what can I say?

Jay: Oh. My. Word. I know girl, I know!

11/08/2005 1:11 PM  
Blogger Brian Gardner said...

"And the ironic thing is that I’m pretty sure we’re all just waiting for someone else to admit they are as lost and broken as we are."

Guilty as charged.

From my blog: "Why do you pick a time when I want to return home to you to put me through this immediate trial? Just when I start to feel your presence, I am bombarded with doubt. But deep down, there is some part of me that understands it. I don't know where that part is, I can't feel it right now. Yet I know it's there. You asked Peter to walk on water, but he was afraid. At this moment, I see you calling me, to step outside the boat. Asking me to believe, and to have faith. To trust you wholeheartedly. But I need more time. I'm not ready yet..."

We're all with you Katie.

11/08/2005 2:20 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

Oh K-T. I've been away from my computer all day but just had to check in real quick to see what you're up to. And there it is. Your beginning was so cute with the microphone, but then it got oh so real. Please know that I love you my friend for who you are, because I don't think that what I see is a "fake" K-T. We're all like the little armadillos that I've seen the past two weekends while bike riding. We act like we have such a protective shell, but really, on the other side, we have a soft underbelly that is so vulnerable. We really all do. You're just brave enough and honest enough to show that softer side.

All of us so want to put our good side out because really and truly that is who we want to be. But we're not always that person. Please don't put more pressure on yourself than is needed. We are to press on to His goal, to be formed in His image, but not the worlds.

I think I'm rambling now. You truly are my friend, just as you are.

11/08/2005 2:30 PM  
Blogger Eddo said...

KT, someone once told me this, "You like people for their qualities, you love them for their imperfections."

When I heard that I knew I mustbe really loved.

I think BWH is right, we are human, I think girls sometimes fall into the "Perfection Trap" more often than guys do, but we do it too.

I tried to be someone else for a long time, I tried to make other people happy, I never let my gaurd down, and then everything went to crap one year and I realized that you can never be all things to all people. You can love everyone and hope for the best in return and in the end, the only friend that sticks closer than a brother is Jesus. Everyone on this Earth, no matter how much they love us, will let us down. I learned that the hard way, but it was the best lesson I ever learned.

11/08/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

Right on, Eddo.

11/08/2005 4:11 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Lots to respond to:

Stephanie - We're mind melding.

Jayleigh - I didn't spark that it was all there to begin with. What insight and wisdom you have in your heart.

B.Gard - your words are so true (and poetic, yep been checking out your site)

Jcol - thanks sweet girl

Eddo - Did I know you that year? did I see you go through that and not notice? I'm sorry if I did. You're right about Christ being the only one.

11/08/2005 4:18 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Yup, yup, yup...I'm broken, I'm weak, I'm soooo not perfect, and I do fall into this trap a lot.

It's funny (not in a hahaha sort of way though), my post today is similar to this, and I've read another blog or two about topics that tie into this sort of thing.

Makes me kinda wonder why so many of us are going through/discovering this very thing today, or in the last few days. I have to wonder if the Lord is trying to mend us for something special that He needs us to do for Him...we can't do whatever it is if we are wearing our masks, being prideful, focusing on the world, etc. We need to be broken and then molded to the image He wants us to be...for something.

11/08/2005 6:21 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

Right on girlfriend! Jayleigh always used to say "fake it till you make it" to me. I'm sure she didn't really mean fake it: in the "game" part of life... it's all fake.

So, why do we even try to play that game?

Hurt. Getting Burned. Being ashamed that we're not good enough.

Guess what? I used to smirk at people whose marriages seemed less good than mine. Two years later, I have a great apartment, a better job than I could ever imagine... and I'm divorced.

My fall into reality was hard, ugly, and tiring... but God's Grace held me up when I was least deserving. (Who am I kidding? I'm still not deserving!)...

But you get the pic. I never knew. I just... never knew!

11/08/2005 7:08 PM  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Katie I think you missed my point. I was agreeing with you. I just think your too hard on yourself.

Take courage. We all fake it to make it. Even if you haven't been true you're still doing as well as most of us.

I'll quote Peart commenting on Shakespeare.

"All the world is indeed a stage. We are many players, performers and portrayers. Each another's audience outside the gilded cage."

Christ used the word "actor" or "hypocrite" more than anyone else in scripture. And he barely used it. So don't be hard on yourself.

You are still absolutely right in principle. When we lie this way we don’t do ourselves any favors. Not being satisfied in our own skin is an insult to God. It screams, “Your grace is Not sufficient!” I applaud your efforts to be true to yourself, God and man. This is why you are such an exceptional woman.

11/08/2005 9:56 PM  
Blogger amelia said...

Like I was reading my own journal, and just what I needed to hear today to not feel so alone. Thanks.

11/08/2005 10:47 PM  
Blogger Shenna said...

I hate masks, and yet we all wear them. Let's be real people, real!

I don't believe God is ever done with us until we meet him face to face.

Keep on keepin' on!

11/08/2005 11:15 PM  
Blogger Brian Gardner said...

Katie, wow, someone's actually reading my blog! :)

11/09/2005 7:55 AM  
Blogger Tony Myles said...

Hi... my name is Tony. And contrary to popular belief, it's not Veronica.

Kudos for putting yourself out there. As you gambled, others feel the same way.

But here's my thought - are masks all that bad? I know they're "supposed to be," but isn't it by wearing masks that we try to figure out who we're best wired to be?

Some kids wear the masks of being super heroes so that they can muster up the courage to do things (like save someone) that they normally wouldn't be able to.

Some teens wear the masks of extracurriculars to see if they have any musical, artisitic, academic, or athletic talent.

Some young adults wear the masks of a college major to see if they are really excited about what they think they're excited about.

Some adult-adults (whatever that is) wear the mask of a profession to see if they can earn a paycheck to pursue whatever dream is really in their heart.

And so on...

Sometimes masks help us to try things on to see if they fit.

The catch, though, is to be able to tell the difference between a mask... and skin.

11/14/2005 8:14 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Tony - You make an interesting point. I guess my question would be: How do you define a mask? I looked at it in this way: A mask is anything we put on to hide who we are. Its sole purpose is to make other people believe this is what and who we are when, in fact, we are something or someone different. So are professions, majors, or even attempts at something new a mask? I'm thinking no, but only because they allow who you are to shine through them, they enhance who you are instead of trying to cover it.

Good thoughts, thanks for sharing.

11/14/2005 8:32 AM  
Blogger Tony Myles said...

I'm with you, but is the kid who picks up his/her first instrument or football helmet confident? Not yet... it's kind of a mask they wear. When the junior high linebacker stares down another kid all the other kid sees is the mask of intimidation.

I think in some ways a "good" mask is something we choose to put on but without letting it define us.

And we can take it off anytime.

Perhaps a "bad" mask is one that we need the help of God to rip away from our skin.

11/14/2005 11:21 AM  

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