#5: The mask doesn’t get to stay on (no one gets away with pretending they are perfect)
“Authentic” – it’s become an overused word somewhere in the past few years, and sometimes carries a negative connotation (as in, the things that we have done in the name of authenticity haven’t all been pure and healthy).
No matter how much we talk about authenticity, we still desire to appear better than we really are. We all wrestle with the temptation of putting an Instagram filter on our lives. Beyond the edges of the camera lenses, snaps, and screens, privacy gives us all the choice of sharing or not. Don’t get me wrong: privacy is a needful thing and a good gift from God.
But part of what makes us struggle with vulnerability and exposure is a natural result of sin. Conviction and condemnation are hard to tell apart sometimes, though neither feel fantastic “out in the wide open.” And in reality, it’s a hard thing to learn what’s public and what’s private. It’s different for each person (guided either by the Spirit of the Lord or selfish motives), and each family (guided by parents teachings).
For me, privacy felt like a torturous prison during my teenage years. So many thoughts and sins, secrets and soliloquys stuffed down behind an angry, stoic façade. I was homeschooled, with limited interactions to people outside my family. Everything within me wanted to just get out of my head, and away from the destruction and demolition that was constantly going on underneath my mask. But I had been taught (both indirectly and directly) that coming out from under the mask wasn’t safe, or even a proper thing to do. So I stayed in the poisonous darkness, and nursed my pride and sense of responsibility for the weight of myself and my sins.
When I came to EQUIP Boot Camp, I was a locked vault of scowls and unapproachable curly hair. It didn’t help that I have a tendency to talk just about as floridly and cryptically as I write. So often anything that I did manage to say (after rehearsing multiple times in my head) was usually met with a couple seconds (or more) of silence.
But by the grace of God that didn’t stop people from trying to reach out to me, trying to include me in the conversations, and continually treating me with unwarranted kindness.
As the week progressed, I saw more and more masks falling off, as if the Spirit of the Lord was pecking from the inside until cracks began to show. Know this from someone who was incredibly determined not to crack: the staff didn’t pry. God’s Word did.
Oh, but no matter how many times the Lord knocked and knocked on the door of my heart, and how much I wanted to let Him in, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t want to crack at camp. Anywhere but there. It would just be a “camp high.” Once they knew what was under the mask, they would retract in disgust. They would have to. There’s no other response to something as horrible, shameful, and self-centered as…suicidal thoughts…is there?
I learned that that was the entirely wrong question to be asking. The one I should have been asking: what is it about these Christ-followers that gave them the strength to hold their heads up both confidently and humbly?
The answer is blindingly obvious: Jesus. He was the Light in their eyes, lilt in their laughter, and beauty of their smiles. The staff and students of EQUIP Boot Camp have the blessing of walking in openness before God, His Word, and each other. Because He covers us, we don’t need a mask.
If you (or students you know) are on the fence about applying for this summer’s EQUIP Boot Camp, I challenge you to step out with Christ’s courage. Applications are DUE February 1st (that includes staff applications, too).
Joy Knight was a 2014 intern, with degrees in English and Music. She of course loves good books and music, is a minor-league foodie and enjoys the outdoors. She started working fulltime on the Transform staff September 2014, where she seeks opportunities to serve the students and users of Precept through writing and other projects.