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Tag: healing



The masks we wear.

I have always been a huge fan of make believe.  Every Halloween I do my very best to make our home a memorable one to visit… sometimes a little to memorable.  It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, but weather Darth Vader or a terrifying zombie, the kids love it… mostly.  Welcome to Masks.

How odd that I’m writing this post in the midst of a global pandemic that has exposed the critical shortage of medical masks in the world.  We are now in week five of self isolation and the health authorities have advised wearing masks when out and about for supplies.  But even before Covid 19 was a thing, we have become masters of disguise.  If you’ve ever forced a smile and told someone that you’re doing great but deep inside your falling apart, then you know what I’m talking about.  Sometimes we’re fearful that the world will find us out.  We feel that we must portray strength and confidence to a watching world at all times, it really can be exhausting.

The “Avoidance Mask” is often the mask of choice to avoid the pain of believing others will judge you or look down on you.

The “Happy Mask,” my personal favourite.  Happy all the time, nothing ever gets me down.  Those who know me best see the holes and tears that have developed from years of constant use.

The “Functional Mask” is the natural go to at work.  This is the one to wear when you need to be in charge and nothing phases you, even though you have just received terrible news and you’re not sure you can keep it together.

The “People Pleaser Mask.”  This is the one you put on to prove to others that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy.  You want them to accept you and not treat you poorly, they are less likely to emotionally attack you.

The “Anger Mask.”  If you want to keep people away from you when you’re feeling vulnerable this can be a powerful one to wear.  Emotionally sensitive people who don this mask are often left feeling lonely and struggle with self worth.

The problem is that, over time, the masks we wear can become difficult to take off.  You may also be at risk of forgetting who you really are.  God made you just the way He wanted you to be.  You have nothing to be ashamed of, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14.

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” —  Oscar Wilde

We choose to put the masks on and likewise, it is up to each one of us when to take them off.  The first step is to make a firm commitment to yourself that you will make the effort.  It may even be painful in the beginning so take it one step at a time.  Accept your feelings and trust that they will pass.  Stand up straight and let yourself be seen.  Don’t be afraid of expressing your opinions and thoughts in a kind and gentle manner.  Everyone is fighting some sort of battle within themselves and their fight isn’t likely to be the same as yours.  It is so important to be kind to everyone and to treat people the way you would have them treat you.  Matthew 7:12.

Being rejected or criticized is not a pleasant experience, but you’ll find out that you’re actually stronger than you think.  Put your trust in God and be not afraid of what mere mortals may do to you.  Psalm 56:3-4.

The following poem found it’s way into our hearts over twenty five years ago.  The Author is unknown and it has been published in a number of books and online.  It has been in the public domain since the late 1960’s.  As you read it, you may see a bit of yourself in the reflection.


Don’t be fooled by me.  Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.  For I wear a mask.  I wear a thousand masks – masks that I’m afraid to take off and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me, but don’t be fooled, for God’s sake, don’t be fooled.

I give you the impression that I’m secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without, that confidence is my name, and coolness my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask, my ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.

Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.  Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.

But I hide this.  I don’t want anybody to know it.  I panic at the thought of my weaknesses and fear exposing them.  That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only salvation, and I know it.

That is, if it’s followed by acceptance, and if it’s followed by love.  It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself, from my own self-built prison walls.

I dislike hiding, honestly, I dislike the superficial game I’m playing, the superficial phony game.

I’d really like to be genuine and me.

But I need your help, your hand to hold.  Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.

That glance from you is the only thing that assures me of what I can’t assure myself, that I’m really worth something.

But I don’t tell you this.  I don’t dare.  I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh and your laugh would kill me.  I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good and you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game.  With a facade of assurance without, and a trembling child within.  So begins the parade of masks.

The glittering but empty parade of masks, and my life becomes a front.  I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything that’s nothing and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.

So when I’m going through my routine do not be fooled by what I’m saying.  Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying.  Hear what I’d like to say but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you, long felt inadequacies make my defences strong.  The nearer you approach me the blinder I may strike back.

Despite what books say of men, I am irrational; I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.

You wonder who I am, you shouldn’t, for I am every man and every woman who wears a mask.

Don’t be fooled by me.

At least not by the face I wear.

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Image – Pixabay

Making Peace (part 2)

Making Peace (part 2)

Man and woman talking

Healthy Communication

Restoring any relationship requires proper communication so don’t stop talking.  When the time comes to reconnect try your best to minimize any distractions; turn the TV off, put phones away and include only those directly involved in the original disagreement.  This is the first step Jesus tells us to take in being reconciled.  Matthew 18:15.  Matters can quickly become more complicated if we tell everyone else except the offender in an effort to garnish support for our own position.  This can deteriorate into nothing more than gossip and can turn a difficult situation into an impossible one.  There may come a time to involve others if all attempts to fix the issue yourselves fail.  Matthew 18:16.  I believe this also eludes to the importance of seeking counselling and someone to act as a mediator, but first, let’s talk about the one on one.  Welcome to Making Peace (part 2).

It is always a good idea to start with prayer.  Ask the Lord to join you and help you to understand each other.  It is only through humility that we can admit our mistakes, confess our wrongs and ask for forgiveness.  It takes two to tango so chances are, that during the original confrontation things were said by both that fell short of proper behaviour.  Take the brave step of saying sorry.  Apologize for anything that you said or did that hurt the other and aggravated the situation and always ask for forgiveness.  This clearly demonstrates to the other that you recognize your own faults and are willing to take responsibility for them.  They will usually follow suit and lower their defences making it much easier for them to grant forgiveness and apologize for their behaviour as well.  This pleases God greatly.

Forgiveness is critical to our salvation and to our relationships here on earth.  If a person apologizes and asks for forgiveness we are not to withhold it.  Matthew 6:14-15.  Once we forgive a wrong we forfeit the right to ever bring it up again.  This is when you can truly leave the past behind, it has been dealt with.  If the same thing happens again, then it must be addressed in the same manner.  There is no limit as to how many times we are to forgive.  Matthew 18:22

Please listen carefully; This does not mean that you should stay in a dangerously abusive situation of any kind.  Forgiving someone does not automatically mean that trust is restored.  That takes time.  Physical abuse can crush your body, but psychological abuse can crush your spirit.  If the offender apologizes but the behaviour continues repeatedly then you should consider ending the relationship.  Being a Christian doesn’t make you a door mat.  Ask God for His guidance as to when enough is enough and trust the answer when it comes.  If you see honest attempts to get help and efforts are being made to change then pay attention to these things, change takes time.  Patience is a godly quality and is commendable but even God’s patience runs out and it never ends well for the unrepentant.  Your well being is very important to Him and He knows exactly what you’re going through.

Be honest and speak with gentleness and compassion.  Address the issues without demeaning the person.  Avoid saying things like, “you always do this” or “you never do that.”  Try something like, “it would be helpful if you could…”  So often it’s not what we say, but how we say it that makes the difference.  If the conversation begins to heat up again lead by example and resist the urge to react in an ungodly manner.  Proverbs 15:1.  Try to be empathetic.  The Oxford Dictionary describes empathy as: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  This can only be accomplished by truly listening.  If your mind is already busy formulating a comeback, then you’re not really paying attention.  Proverbs 18:13.

If this is starting to sound like work, then good.  It’s easy to become complacent and take our loved ones for granted.  Worse than that, we may be wilfully negligent when it comes to bringing things up that bother us for fear of an argument.  In a healthy relationship we should never be afraid to share our concerns or question poor behaviour.  Speak up in a tactful, controlled manner and always start with a positive.  Relationships are about building each other up, not tearing each other down, be supportive and encourage one another.

Some people think that you only need to create boundaries in an unhealthy relationship, this is not true.  Healthy boundaries simply means knowing what you should or should not do out of respect for your loved ones wishes, just make sure you set them together.  A good example of this is my wife’s insistence on having her own bank account.  I would often joke that, “what was mine, is now hers and what was hers, is still hers.”  Joking aside, it bothered me at first, but after thinking it through I decided that it wasn’t a big deal.  She was always better at handling money than I was and given my track record, I really couldn’t blame her.  Sometimes boundaries get broken.  We think that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission, especially if permission is hard to get.  Let’s face it, some things are so ingrained in us that change seems all but impossible, yet, with God, all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26.

It’s okay to disagree on things.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  We can agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable.  This is when true Christian maturity shines bright and the level of commitment to the relationship becomes evident.  The “my way or the highway” ultimatum is a control move designed to ignite fear that the relationship could fall apart if they don’t get their way.  On the world stage this usually leads to war.  Mutual respect and patience can go a long way toward getting some of what we want without the use of force that leads to resentment.

Try to maintain a sense of humour, even during difficult times.  Humour lightens a situation, it doesn’t mean that you take the situation lightly.  A good laugh is healthy for us, both physically and emotionally.  It not only decreases stress hormones and increases infection fighting antibodies but it actually relieves physical tension and helps your muscles relax.  Can you see how this could really help during a confrontation?  I like to laugh a lot, especially at myself.  Proverbs 17:22.

Counselling & Mediation

If all attempts to find a solution fail then make every effort to seek help early on, don’t give bitterness a chance to take root.  Any pastor or councillor can testify to the failure rate of trying to bring healing into a situation where minds are already made up.  Stiff necks and hard hearts lead to an unwillingness to compromise and the relationship ends.  When heels are dug in, the ability to think clearly and rationally or even to hear what’s really being said becomes all but impossible.

As followers of Christ we accept the Bible as the ultimate source of truth and moral standard so we have always enlisted the help of true believers that we know and trust.  This has included friends, pastors and professional councillors.  If you don’t know of any Christian councillors then ask the pastor or elders of a Bible believing church for a recommendation or talk to people who have been helped by a particular one.  Jesus understands our suffering and walks with us through our struggles.  Hebrews 4:12-16 is a strong and compelling reason to include Him in the reconciliation process.

Some will seek guidance only from those who support their point of view or that can be manipulated into taking it.  To a narcissist, a councillor becomes just another pawn to be used in the game.  Through the telling of half truths and outright deception they can preprogram the councillor into telling them exactly what they want to hear.  Of course they would never agree to you being in the room or even giving you the opportunity to speak with this councillor to set the record straight.  It just a charade.  Now they can run about saying, “I saw a councillor and they agreed that continual discord is not healthy for anyone.”  While this is true, the continual discord may very well be caused by their inability and unwillingness to come to the table and deal with the issues.  Getting back to the above verse in Hebrews, Jesus knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Even when faced with overwhelming evidence that God commands us to go and be reconciled and that the very foundation of our faith is built on forgiveness, they may say, “…someday, but not right now.”

My friends, it has been my experience that the road of someday, usually leads to the land of never.  So where is the victory if all efforts fail?  If you have done everything that God would have you do to heal your relationship, then before Him your conscience is clear.  He knows the thoughts and motivations of those who opposed the healing process.  Trusting that God knows what’s best for you is the only path to true and lasting peace.  May the God of all comfort, grace and mercy be with you as you move forward in all your relationships.

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Image – picspree

Oxford Dictionary – online – The benefits of laughter

Making Peace (part 1)

Making Peace (part 1)


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:9

Anytime you help yourself or someone else in healing a broken relationship you are a “peacemaker” and God delights in you.  You are literally carrying on the work of the Prince of Peace.  Friendships that last a lifetime and marriages that go the distance “till death do us part” don’t happen by chance.  Likewise with strong families, where each member has mastered the ability to overlook the molehills and when a mountain does come along, they climb it together.  We are called to love, support and care for one another, to love our friends and neighbours as our selves.  In reality, we need God and we need each other, that’s the way we are made.  I know that it isn’t easy at times…in fact, without God, it would be all but impossible with some folks.  All of us must strive to guard our close relationships with tenderness and endurance.  Welcome to Making Peace (part 1).

We all have strengths and weaknesses, favourable qualities and character flaws, but as different as we all are, we share a common curse.  We live in a fallen world.  We can all be enticed and dragged away by our own sinful desires.  This is the best answer that I have found in the Bible as to why Christian marriages end, family members become disposable and friendships are abandoned.  James 1:14  Even though as Christians we have been freed from slavery to sin, we haven’t completely lost the taste for it.  As much as it would be wonderful to live in perfect peace and harmony every moment of every day, well…that’s just not realistic.

Arguments, disagreements and confrontations do happen in relationships and can actually be quite healthy.  They may be caused by differing opinions on an important matter or a simple misunderstanding, maybe even a poor attempt at humor that led to hurt feelings.  The fact that they happen isn’t nearly as important as HOW they are handled.  Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation in this world.  The Oxford Dictionary describes tribulation as: a state of great trouble or suffering.  That doesn’t mean just “out” in the world, but in our own homes, even in our Christian homes.  This is not a threat to healthy households whose members remain in Christ and act accordingly.  As parents we strive to ensure that our children make healthy choices and are quick to correct dangerous or poor behaviour.  We do this because we love them.  God does the same thing with us and commands us to do the same with each other.  This can sometimes mean correcting our parents.  Obeying our father and our mother does not come before obedience to God.  I’m not talking about nitpicking every little thing.  Proverbs 19:11 states that it is to our credit to overlook an offence.  What I am taking about is witnessing major transgressions that could lead to their destruction and the destruction of others.  Proverbs 6:12-19 is a sobering description of just such offences.  If you truly love them, you will take action.  The Holy Spirit, Who is alive and well in the heart of every true believer, will guide you in this process if you let Him.  God will never ask us to do something and not provide the help and courage to move forward.

You can chose your friends, you can chose your spouse, but you can’t chose the family you are born into.  Family issues take on a different dynamic, never the less, the following advice works well for all relationships.

If you have been in a relationship for a significant period of time, you will have experienced successes and failures, gains and losses, periods of happiness and times of deep sadness.  This is perfectly normal as we travel together through life.  Most minor disagreements and annoyances are of little consequence in a healthy relationship.  It’s the major blow outs, the ones that threaten an otherwise stable friendship that leave us feeling mentally and physically drained.  These are the times when it is extremely important to guard against bitterness and unhealthy thoughts.  Avoid the temptation to “throw in the towel.”  I may be going out on a limb here but I believe that as complex and widely varied as relationship issues are, the following statement is true for all; when a relationship ends, someone isn’t getting either what they want or what they need.  There is a difference.  How wonderful it would be if we were all able to align our hearts with what God wants.  He knows exactly what each one of us needs.

Take Time

The best thing to do when an argument gets heated and tempers flare is to stop.  This is not easy, we are emotional beings and the desire to be right and to win an argument compels us to stay in the battle until the white flag of surrender is raised.  Yelling doesn’t make you right and swearing only reveals your lack of self-control.  All too often things get said that you wish you could take back.  Adrenaline can cause us to lose focus and become enraged, it’s time to stop.  Be mindful of how you leave the situation.  Don’t stomp, throw or slam your way out and don’t insist on having the last word, just calmly walk away.  Be sure to let them know that you understand the importance of the subject and are not trying to avoid it, but need time to calm down.  Make the commitment to revisit the issue after taking some time to think things through and regain your clarity.

Take time to reflect on what happened and try to identify the “root cause” of the disagreement.  Underlying issues are not always easy to spot but if they remain undetected and untreated the behaviour is likely to continue.  We may even have these issues inside ourselves and not even be aware of them.  Look inwardly and ask yourself some tough questions.  Are hurtful words and careless actions you have experienced in the past subconsciously controlling your reactions in the now?  PTSD isn’t just a military term.  It is possible that something triggered you.  Do your best to identify what it was and put it into the proper perspective with regard to the current issue.

Our words and actions reveal what lies in our heart so speak carefully and always with love, make sure your actions line up with what you say.  Ask God to expose anything that may be hampering the reconciliation.  Making peace takes work, guard against bitterness at all cost.  Make every effort to ensure that your motivation is as pure and reasonable as possible.  Is it a “righteous” request?  If you are convinced that, before God, your position is right then you will be far better prepared to state your case when you reconvene.  This is one of the most important reasons to read your Bible, there is no defence against the Word of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Don’t quickly scan its pages looking for a verse to hurl like a missile, but “speak the truth in love.”  Ephesians 4:15  Sadly there are those who diligently study the Word only looking for ways they can use it to achieve their own agenda.  They have great biblical knowledge but lack the wisdom to put it to proper use to the glory of God.

Have you ever had these thrown at you?  “Don’t judge” or “Take that log out of your eye.”  First of all, if Jesus didn’t want us to recognise evil at work He wouldn’t have told us about the fruits of the Spirit or warn us of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Matthew 7:15-20  The important thing is that we don’t judge under a spirit of condemnation, but that we have the person’s best interest at heart.  That we love them.  Remember, we are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God.  We all need forgiveness and must be willing to forgive others.  If the person you’re trying to help doesn’t truly believe that you love them…they won’t hear you.

God must come first, followed by the best interests of others before our own.  We are all selfish to varying degrees so it can be difficult, but that’s what love does.  Take time to pray for the person.  Ask God to unplug their ears and open their hearts to the truth.  Bringing a loved one before the Lord in prayer is a loving gift that invites true power into the situation, so be specific.  If it’s ungodly behaviour then name it and pray against it.  Ask God to give them the grace and humility to recognize the issue and the strength and wisdom to change it.  Be patient, change takes time.  I think one reason my wife was able to hang on through my alcoholism was that she witnessed my honest and wholehearted attempts to change my behaviour and always let me know that she appreciated my efforts.  I don’t ever recommend turning a blind eye to ungodly behaviour as little things can become big deals over time.

You obviously care a great deal about your relationship and are devoted to healing it.  This is the most critical element on the road to reconciliation, both parties must be deeply committed to the healing process.  A one sided relationship will not last.  When one person is always giving and the other is always taking the giver becomes depleted and miserable.  As you take time to think about the situation look for ways to compromise and be willing to meet them somewhere in the middle.   You must draw the line at things God is clearly against, just be sure that is the case and then set a good example.  Be understanding, be gentle and self-controlled.

When you feel confident that sufficient time has passed for a constructive and meaningful conversation to begin, let them know that you wish to continue.  Don’t rush it.  They may take a little longer to come around.  This may take a few days or even a few weeks but don’t let it go too long.  If they tell you to “stop bringing up the past” or that the subject is “not open to any further discussion,” these are control moves designed to avoid and are a clear indication of a lack of commitment.  If it was important enough to cause such division then it must be dealt with or it will come up again.

If you have enjoyed part 1 of Making Peace be sure to bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling, please share this post.

Continue with part 2 of Making Peace


Image – Pixabay

Oxford Dictionary – online – How and When should we overlook an offence.