Stop and stare
At the sea of faces
You can fool
Whoever knew you!
(lyrics from Phantom of the Opera)
We all wear masks. Masks of Perfection.
The mask of a perfectly clean house- the kind that always look ready for a magazine photo-shoot. It makes me wonder how people actually live there.
The mask of a perfect body. Isn't it such an elusive concept? No one's body is always perfect- there's always hidden problems or stretch marks, or at least stray pimples that have the audacity to announce themselves on your face right before date night.
What about social masks? Don't we want to impress everyone we interact with? Sometimes it's like a contest: who is the wittiest of all? Who is the prettiest of all? Who is the most fashionable? Who is the smartest? Who is the richest?
I see everyone around me dancing in a never-ending mental masquerade.
I'm tired of these games. It's all so superficial. We can try our very hardest, and it's never good enough. It's never PERFECT. If we all know perfection is always elusive, why do we even try to pretend we have it?
I"ve been doing a lot of serious introspection this week. I try really hard to be 'real' and non-pretentious. I usually don't care what people think of me. Even so, I've noticed my own mask.
What mask do I wear? I wear a mask over my post-partum depression. I try to always hide my inner struggle with a mask of colorful clothing (seriously, how can anyone be depressed while wearing bright yellow?) and smiles. When I'm REALLY depressed (on the verge of tears) I sing to hide it. Oh sure, friends ask me often how I'm doing emotionally. I don't actually lie, but I change the subject quickly to something else. A more comfortable subject. I don't tell them my daily battles with myself.
I have prayed and searched the scriptures for comfort each day the past 3 months. It's impossible to wear a mask or hide our true selves from Heavenly Father. He knows all our secret struggles, even before we decide to tell Him about it.
I have spent so many nights on my knees, weeping to the Lord and confiding all my inadequacies and weaknesses. It's interesting how He teaches me in these conversations. He has reminded me of the scripture: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me". He also has reminded me (again) that through Christ, I can always have deep joy and inner peace.
Something else amazing happened. God has lovingly (and powerfully) reminded me that true perfection is NOT an illusion.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I literally can be perfect. He has given me immeasurable peace by teaching me that after I do my best, He will make up the difference.
The most important thing is this: Perfection through Christ is never a mask.
It is our true selves, with nothing left to hide. It is joyous.