(By Christina Draper)
I used to wear a mask (and no I don’t mean for COVID). At a young age, I decided that it was safer to hide who I was than reveal myself to the world. To protect myself from rejection, disappointment, and abandonment, I put on the mask of indifference and aggression—to scare off anyone that ventured close. I put on a show wherever I went so that no one could get close enough to see the scared little girl behind the mask. On the surface, I appeared unshakeable, but under my calm and distant appearance were wounds that seemed to never heal. My mask kept me safe...or so I thought.
Four years ago I lost my mask. It didn’t fade, it didn’t crack, my mask shattered under the weight of twenty-one years of anxiety. I couldn’t hide it anymore. The fear and pain were written all over my face in the wounds that were still as fresh as the day I received them. My wounds needed to be mended and the only way I could do that was to retreat into a safe place. As lost and heavy as those months felt, and as difficult as these years have been, I see now what the Lord was doing. The masquerade was over. It was there that He met me in the middle of my mess. He cleaned my wounds with His love, bound them with His Word, and gave me peace through the pain.
If there is anything you take away from this message let it be this: Do not fear, He is with you. If you’re wearing a mask I can say with full assurance that life is better when you’re honest. Yes, it is scary. Yes, it is uncertain, but there is such immense freedom in letting down your defenses and letting God work. I’m showing my scars and my weakness so that you can see what He has done for me. My scars are proof that I walked through the valley and survived. I want you to see that you are not alone. So take off your masks. Be real. Be vulnerable. Heal. And if you need help please get it! You and all your scars are needed here.
If your question today is “Does it get better?” The answer is "Yes." Over the past four years, I’ve spent time with the Lord. I’ve talked honestly with those around me. And I’ve worked closely with my therapist to repair what had been broken for far too long. I am more vulnerable, more honest, and more me than I’ve ever been before. So, I guess an introduction is in order:
Hi! My name is Christina. I have generalized and social anxiety, and I’ve been seeing a therapist for two years now. I’m afraid of public speaking. I don’t believe that people will choose to stay in my life, but I’m working on it. I don’t like watermelon. I don’t think I deserve love, but I’m working on it. I firmly believe that salt water is the best mood booster. I think that every time I make a mistake I lose value in your eyes, so I do everything I can to keep that from happening, but I’m working on it. I love summer thunderstorms. I hold grudges that aren’t even mine to hold, but I’m working on it. I’m strong, loyal, dependable, artistic, loved, chosen, forgiven, and valuable. I am a child of God.
Nice to meet you!