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Thursday, September 29, 2011


Burning glances,
Turning heads....
Stop and stare 
At the sea of faces 
Around you.

Seething shadows,
breathing lies...
You can fool
Any friend
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. 


merinda said...

Well said, Renae. Your photo of you and your hubby in the mirror looks PERFECT to me! Funny how that works—everyone else looks perfect except the person you see in the mirror. I love your revelation that perfection through Christ is the only real kind of perfection. Thanks for the reminder to cast my burdens upon Him today. I needed that. I hope your burdens get lesser soon. Blast those raging postpartum hormones!

Janelle said...

I totally knew we were roommates for a reason even if it was just for a short time! I too try to hide my depression with bright clothes in fact my husband has learned that when I am dressing too brightly to treat me extra nice. I really tried last time around to just hide the PPD and pretend that I had a handle on it, if someone asked I would say that I was fine, because I truly thought that because I knew I was depressed that I was "fine." It wasn't until I looked back over 2 years later that I saw what a black hole I had been in and how it affected my cute kids! This time around I have made sure to look for signs and my husband is also more aware, but really the first signs of increasing depression this time I went to the doctor and got on a low dose anti depressant and also have started to run a few times a week and honestly I am not always happy go lucky but I feel like most of the time I have a handle on my depression and I can be a better mom. PPD is such a mean illness because you feel like you should be better than it and than it just cycles into itself, I hate it, but I do love when people admit to it and takes some of the sting out of admitting to it myself. The more people that I know are struggling with it the more I don't feel as bad for struggling myself! Love you!

Julie said...

1st if you are wondering who the crazy is that marked "funny" under the reaction section of this post... It was me (your cousin Julie) I am using a touch screen and accidentally touched that instead of the "comment" button! Whoops:( 2nd I am really sorry to hear you are struggling with PPD. That can be so difficult. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. 3rd I have sure enjoyed your blog. Your adventures in your new place are so fun to read about. I admire your perspecttive on life and raising your children. 4th the rocket pic below this post is so cute of your son and husband with matching shorts shirt and haircut. Too cute!

Anonymous said...

Love you! I love what Sister Hinkley said, "if you want success then lower your expectations." I really apply that to all areas of my life...especially laundry. It really makes it all seems just right when I lower my own bar a little on what I want to ackomplish and what I am actually going to ackomplish. I love you dearly and pray that the fog if insecurity will pass and you can see the beautiful rays that you emulate from within, you're a shining star and will not be muffled out of the warm you give to others and share within yourself. I love our chats how few and short they have become and I feel so much renewal from our conversaions. I pray that you will feel that same renewal and that you can overcome this struggle, I know you will, you're so amazing and strong. I am always here for you. Love you!