Seeking God’s Approval: How’s That Working For You? Part II
Greetings. Welcome to my post. My hope and desire is that you will find these posts to be informative and helpful for you. Life is a journey filled with mountains and valleys in our relational life and in our personal life. Sometimes we can predict and make something happen. But sometimes we can never predict an event or relationship difficulty and we need to adjust and cope with these curve balls. At times life can be great but as you know, life can also be difficult and challenging.
In my last post, I talked about the conflict between keeping up the appearance of being a good Christian on the outside but on the inside never really feeling secure and confident in your walk with God. On the outside, you may be keeping up the appearance by trying harder so as to appear that this effort is working. You are attempting to keep your private and personal problems at bay so that people will only view your life as trying to do good and look good.
In my observation, most of these trying methods only result in masks. Now, I know all of us really don’t think of wearing a mask when we think about living the Christian life. When we think of this term mask we may think of people who are covering up their face due to some type of disorder or problem on their face. I have a friend who did wear a mask as she did feel the shame and pain of a scare on her face due to being burned and this burn mark led to her wearing a mask. Or we may think of a mask as a masquerade we put on for Halloween or a party we attend in which wearing a mask is part of the clothing outfit.
But as people and as Christians, we also can wear a mask due to wanting to cover up our sin or our pain so we don’t allow others to see our pain or our discomfort. It is not like we choose or say to ourselves one day that we choose these masks. Perhaps we adjust in our walk with God by keeping up an appearance in using a mask so as to show others we are trying harder. Initially our mask may work and we may even adapt to viewing them as a way to cope. But eventually, we all recognize that these masks do not work and their strategy only leads to further problems.
For example, let me propose some masks you may use to keep up an appearance you are good. Perhaps it is the “I’m Happy” mask or “I’m self-sufficient” or “I have it all together” or “I am fine” or “I’m not hurt” mask. The role of the mask is to hide from others so as to keep up this appearance that I am trying to be good. We use these masks due to some message from the church or our family or friends in which we conclude God is good, I am not good, and I will try harder to be good. These masks are strategies to appear to others or to yourself that you are good.
So how are your masks working for you these days? My hunch is that it is exhausting. Sure, initially the mask may be working but eventually they grow tired and thin and trying harder to keep them on also may not be working. For example, the ‘I am happy’ mask maybe working or be used to keep up the appearance that to be a Christian means you have to be happy or joyful all the time. I mean, the Bible talks about real Joy found in Jesus and joy can be an acronym for Jesus, Others, You. Christians are supposed to be happy and happiness means we avoid pain, hurt and sadness or cover up unhappiness by putting on the mask called happy. To be accepted or to gain approval only means stating that I am happy as a means of belonging to the church or Bible Study so as to project this image of being happy. If I have the happy mask, then I am loved, accepted and approved of by God and others.
My hope is you will begin to see this how this false strategy or exhausting effort you are making to keep up this appearance is not working. Attempting to keep this mask on as your journey through life is hard work and only leads to hiding, avoiding, and keeping up an appearance or image you are creating in which you try to project this message that you are happy, when deep down you are not. Instead of accepting that you are not happy, you avoid or deny this truth and keep up this appearance by trying to keep this happy mask on. And eventually, this mask and effort does not work.