Oftentimes, when perceived hardships come, the enemy is quickly blamed. I use the term perceived because in this instance it’s our interpretation, but not necessarily the truth. 

In Hebrews 12:7-8, we see that God disciplines His children like any good parent does (and that says a lot in contrast to the super relaxed reins and “gentle” parenting that is encouraged in today’s time). After all, God is the epitome of a great parent. It confirms that you are His legitimate child. Read down to verse 11 to find out more about our response to discipline.

God’s discipline is for the making (development) of His children. But for many Christians, it’s easier to blame the devil and engage in the religious routines of praying it away or binding up the enemy. Additionally, it is viewed as an insult that discipline is not only needed but being administered.

“𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘐 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦? 𝘋𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘺 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩? 𝘚𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘫𝘦𝘴𝘵! 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘭 𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘺!”

It would serve us well to assess the hardship first before tossing if off as the handiwork of a busy-bodied malevolent being. 

God’s discipline is good. The author of Psalm 119 is unknown although debates swirl that it may be David or Daniel. Nevertheless, the writer dealt with hard circumstances and knew it was God’s doing. In verse 71, he not only recognized God’s discipline but acknowledged it as 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 because it taught him God’s decrees. What a mindset!

We say we want to know God and get closer to Him until the realization sets in that discipline is a method by which the “drawing nigh” happens (Read James 4:8). 

So, the next time you’re enduring hardship, don’t be so quick to give the devil credit. Of course, it’s not pleasant at the time, but find out if it’s God first. If so, trust Him. Trust His heart toward you. This shift in mindset makes endurance doable. Then, know that He considers you His child. He’s simply doing what all incredible fathers do for their children and Father Knows Best.

Let Go of the Mask

This picture is a great example of how many of us move through life. We make adjustments in our lives with masks for each role, audience, or desired result. We hide who we truly are, how we really feel. How many of you go on autopilot when someone says, “Hi! How are you?” Without even thinking, we typically blurt out the routine, “Fine.” or “Good.” It’s so routine. As my life is transitioning, The Skinny Girl Speaks (check out the podcast) to me about how effortlessly and seamlessly we move from mask to mask. Why? Well, there several reasons that come to mind.

Reason 1: It Was The Best Defense

Many of us were taught this because it was the best defense our mothers, grandmothers, or great grandmothers had up against their own harsh realities. They saw this as a survival skill that they could pass along to us. Without much hope of things changing, many anticipated a similar hard fate for the future generations and thought it best to prepare us for what was to come. Knowing they wouldn’t always be there to protect us, at least we would be equipped to adjust, blend, camouflage and live. Or perhaps, the masks enabled them to get the things they needed to survive. Teaching you to manipulate was a good defense against lack. And there are oh so many more! They thought the masks would serve us well. And because we trusted them, we thought so too.

Reason 2: It Worked For Us

So we tried them out and saw some benefit. Adapting, even against our better judgment, meant we would now be included. Hanging out with those who were popular and imitating their look, language, and life made us feel as though we had accomplished something. And this happens within the church, too. Checking the religious boxes, attending the right church functions, connecting with the approved cliques, performing the accepted tasks…all to be accepted as ‘spiritual’. We’ve done this so well that we began to endear to the masks. “Don’t leave home without it!” became our mantra. We dressed up the masks and made them look nice. These masks provided a place for us to hide for a moment. If I’m caught up in the busyness of fitting in, the distraction of adapting, I don’t have to face my reality – that I don’t know who I am. Meanwhile, the core of us became a shadow lurking behind each mask.

Reason 3: We Lost Touch

Subsequently, this routine (wearing masks) distances us daily from who we are. We spend so much time engaging our survival skill of masking that we lose touch with our real self. I was in a leadership class a few years ago about understanding different personality types and how to partner best with them in ministry. The facilitator said that we are most like our true selves around the ages of 5-7. I found that fascinating. But it made total sense. After studying a bit, I learned that during our developmental stages, this age range is typically marked with egocentrism. Not in a bad way either. That’s typically the time we are uninhibited, unbothered and uninfluenced by other’s beliefs or opinions  because, for the most part, it’s all about us. This is good at this age though. There is no abstract reasoning or understanding yet so we don’t know to fear the unknown and change to brace ourselves against pain or unfavorable outcomes. We are simply carefree, learning and growing. We just are who we are BEFORE things that will shape forever begin to get piled on.

Who are you? How do you uncover life’s layers to discover the YOU that God made. Psalm 139:17 says, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV) To me this means, there’s a library in Heaven filled with volumes of books. And one of them is my story. One of them is your story. Perfectly written with hope and a future. Who is the main character in that story? What was her personality like, the pure one from the beginning of the story? When did this change? And how can she return to her authentic self? The self who doesn’t wear masks. The self who isn’t afraid of being seen, really seen, for fear of being judged and not accepted.  

Finally, Here’s My Solution

There’s more than coping, adjusting, and accommodating just to get from day to day. As Christian women, we have hope. This is how Jesus put it. “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG) The thief came to steal, kill and destroy our identity with masks. Jesus came for us to have life – and life to the fullest – real and eternal! That means right now as well as eternally.

Don’t turn to social media to find your true self. It’s not there. Most of that is only what people want you to see. It’s not in mimicking your favorite celebrities. Chances are, they’re wearing masks themselves. You want to be a copy of a fabrication? Of course not! It’s not found in just digging deep within you and creating your best self. You already have a creator and HE lives in you. He will tell you who you are.

Go before the Lord and place your desire for identity (without a mask) at His feet. Petition Him and ask for guidance. I am a living witness that He will answer you. He’s walking me through it. My prayer is that Jesus will lead you through reading the Word and prayer to the right resources. This is what He has done for me – and I’ve embraced walking through this for a year or two.

Here’s a prayer that I’ve held onto during this time:

Lord, guide me into truth about myself. I trust that if you show me, then you are saying that I’m ready and that you will be with me through the process.

John 16:13 says the when the spirit of Truth comes, who is Holy Spirit, He will guide us into all truth. I take that to mean even about myself.

My life has been enriched beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am learning who I am. And you know what?? I like her!!