Most of us have “stuff” in our past that we keep tucked away, because we are afraid of what others will think of us. We create different masks for different situations in order to hide things from people that we don’t want them to know about us. Why do we do this? For protection. For acceptance. To avoid being judged.

We all have those past memories that need to be expunged and healed. In short, we need to learn how to deal with and forgive whatever or whoever hurt us. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “I will forgive, but I will not forget” is just another way of saying, “I don’t want to forgive”. Ask yourself if this is what you have been doing? Distasteful and troubling memories can take hold of your soul and hamper your ability to move forward to become your best self.

How many times have you said “I’m fine or it’s fine” when someone asks you what’s wrong? I’ve done it a million times over the years. But that is a mask – a lie really. A mask to cover up my real feelings, because in truth, I don’t like conflict. I think this is something I started doing as a kid. My brother was always getting into to trouble and in my mind, making my dad sad. I decided I needed to be the “Good Kid” and just do everything right. I had his teachers after him, so I had to prove to them that I wasn’t like my brother, because they always pre-judged me since I was his sister. That was a heavy load to carry for a little kid, and it carried on through high school.

Looking back now, I understand that a great deal of my brother’s behavior stemmed from the fact that my mother left my father when I was just three and he was barely five. I imagine both of us never forgave her for that, and we sure didn’t understand why she left. And through the years, our dad never said a bad word about her. It wasn’t until my dad’s death, and my grandmother’s death that I found letters that explained why they divorced. And it made it even harder for me to forgive her.

What an impact that had on our lives! I missed having a “normal” family and often felt inferior because my parents were divorced. Still, the lesson I learned was that family is everything. My children and my grandchildren mean the world to me. But that doesn’t lessen the damage to my own self-worth. That doesn’t negate the fact that I have constructed masks to protect myself. I grew up feeling inferior because I did not have a complete family.

We all want to feel like we have value. We want to feel like we are important. We want people to pay attention to us. And, we want to help others. We have an innate desire for love and association with our peers. If you find yourself in the dark, look to the Lord for hope and inspiration. Shed your mask and be honest with yourself and others. You might discover that there are others who feel exactly like you Maybe they have had the same experiences as you. Maybe they are wearing the same mask as you!

To learn more about the masks you might be hiding behind, tune into Warrior Divas Episode 17 available at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.