Don't Mar the Master's Work

    A young girl growing up trying to find herself and be comfortable in her own skin is told that she needs to mask herself to really be acceptable. No, I’m not talking about a cloth mask that we all are familiar with as of late. I’m talking about being masked to hide who we really are because society has told us that we aren’t worthy without it. The mask I speak of is something that most women may not even realize that they have succumbed to. Women everywhere have adopted this mask to hide the very thing underneath that they have come to believe is too hideous to share.

    I will recount my own personal story and how I, later on, came to understand this mask to be a disguise of an underlying dissatisfaction. I was a beautiful, teenage girl and my mother told me one day that I shouldn’t be going out of the house anymore like that. How could the world even bear having to look at me unmasked any longer. Surely, no boy would even give me the time of day without this mask on. And just what was wrong with me that I didn’t want to mask up. I couldn't possibly think that I could remain unmasked forever. 

    So, I did what any young teenage girl does, I donned the mask. Every morning, I made sure to set my alarm early enough to have time to apply all of my mask. The tedious process was one I never did learn to love but I was assured it was the only way that I could walk outside the door of my home and encounter others from now on. Some mornings, I would oversleep, and in a frantic state, I would make sure I had all my mask tools and run to the bus with them in tow. I would then proceed to apply my mask over the bumpy, winding roads through neighborhoods and stop after stop as the driver picked up the rest of the students. Thankfully, it was dark most mornings, so others didn’t have to see me clearly and by the time we pulled up at school when the sun was bursting forth, my mask was complete.

    Weekends were the best! I didn’t have to set my alarm. I didn’t have to paint my mask on. I could be among those that saw me in my worst and still loved me, even without the mask. I dreamed of a world where I could be like this everywhere and at ease with myself but that was what it was - a dream. I was taught by those around me that I wasn’t good enough on my own, or in my own skin, literally.

    Not too many years down the road, I met the man I was dearly in love with. One day, he surprised me and knocked on my door. I didn’t have my mask on! I told him through the closed door that I couldn’t open it because he didn’t want to see what lies underneath what he had come to know was me. He persisted and I slightly cracked the door open and showed him a sliver of my unmasked face. He smiled and pushed the door open and as I stood there aghast, he stood there more in love than ever at having seen the real me. The uncovered me, the unmasked me, the raw me, the weekend me - the one I never wanted him to see. And he loved me.

    That was the last day I ever wore the mask. It has now been almost 23 years without it. I’m entirely comfortable in my own skin. I’m a banner of what it means to truly be at peace with yourself and who you are. I don’t have to paint anything on to disguise what I think others would detest. This is me. This is my face. I have found freedom from the bondage of the paint that masked the masterpiece that I thought I had to hide. You see, the Creator had already done the work perfectly, and who am I to mar the Master’s work?