Masks

What does it mean to be Seen, Known, and Loved?

Coming onto NET with a chronic illness, my constant prayer was, ‘Lord, please keep me healthy’.  When I say healthy I mean nothing too serious. The first half of the year was a success for the most part, maybe a little cold here and there. Yet coming back for Christmas break was another story. I came back and survived January and the next thing I knew I needed to stay home with a horrible cough. In our ministry we visit schools about 3 times a week. I did not think it was a good idea to go with a cough to a school visit. When I went to the doctors she sent me for an x-ray and the next thing I knew I was on antibiotics for early pneumonia.  

This sickness worked out at the right time, to be honest. The next week we had a retreat which I wrote the talk for. This talk was all about the masks that we hide behind and this made me realize that not only was I holding onto a mask but that I had learnt to take off that mask.  

I was diagnosed with a chronic illness when I was in grade 9 (14 years old). This caused me to miss the first week of my grade 9 year.  When I got back to school I was asked where I had been and I answered telling them that I had been in hospital and that I was sick. This person replied that they didn’t really believe I was sick because I didn’t look sick. From then on I just kept that mask on ‘being well’.  I would only let my parents see that I wasn’t healthy. I would say that the first year or so that mask was not too firm, but as I got older I would just say I was healthy and convinced myself that I was feeling okay. I think my parents almost always knew when I was sick, but with friends and other family I would put on a persona. Sometimes it wasn’t until it was hard to walk until I would ask for prayers or tell people that I was not 100%.  

So how does that relate to the talk and NET? Writing this talk made me realize that I had had this mask and that it had recently come down.  When I got pneumonia, I told my teammate that I was not 100% and that I needed rest. Thus allowing her to love me and see me. I had let down that mask. Letting that mask go did not hurt and was not hard. People might think it will be hard to do and for some, it may be, but quite honestly it was freeing for me. 

So I challenge you to think about what you are holding onto. What mask are you hiding behind? Do you want to be seen, known, and loved by a God who is waiting patiently for you?  Who are you hiding from?  

Maria Van Vugt, Team 7