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Life: unmasked (a new writing project) and more every-day gifts

Snippets of the day flash across my mind’s eye as I lay in bed, trying to sleep. The pictures and memories play over and over with this song as the soundtrack. “This is the stuff that drives me crazy….This is the stuff You use.”

'Tears are tasteless' photo (c) 2008, LMAP - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Tears for Ellie again in the worship service at church, and the growing dread as October (it will be 3 years since she died) and winter (with its dark and depression) draw ever closer. (gratitude for the difficult graces… #435-436)

…The unshakable and unsettling sense of inner homelessness. (#437 – empathy for others)

…Mixed signals from a friend who seems distant. (#438 – not all the signals are negative)

…My son’s arm around my shoulder and my daughter’s head resting on my other shoulder. Even though I’ve been out of sorts, still they draw near. (#439-441, one for each affectionate child)

…Husband and kids in one room doing our bedtime routine while I curl up on the couch, tired and unwilling to join, yet feeling guilty for not joining them. (#442-445 – a husband who reads, prays, sings, and tucks kids into bed)

…Sunshine, blue sky, cool breeze, and the kind of conversation I crave. (#446-449)

…Pressing my face into prayer-pleading palms and begging through prayer-pleading fingers for God to give me a sense of being accepted and at peace even if my circumstances don’t reinforce that. (#450-452 – God hears and listens and is patient with me)

…Tonight’s epic failure to communicate what I mean, added to the ever-growing pile of previous such failures. Words are so difficult and misunderstandings seem to multiply the harder I try. So why am not able to walk away? Why do I keep trying? (#453-454 Jesus is the Word of God in flesh, so words aren’t inherently bad. My failures point me to the perfect Word.)

…Discovering 1 Peter 4:10 as my answer. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (#455)

'Broken Glass at Work-6' photo (c) 2008, Eric Schmuttenmaer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’m broken. In both the sense of “not whole” and in the sense of “malfunctioning.” I don’t live consistent with the things I claim to believe or be. Those inconsistencies aren’t hidden. I can’t hide them and yet I can’t fix them. (#456-459)

But being whole and being perfect isn’t a requirement God asks of me. God chooses broken people, the ones least likely to succeed, the ones H.R. would pass over when looking to fill an open position. Jesus went to Galilee to choose his first disciples, a place full of troublemakers and half-breeds, the worst of the worst, the ones Jews were ashamed to call Jews. Jesus gave them one instruction, “follow me,” and a promise – “I will make you fishers of people” – I will equip you. (#460-463)

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1 that God chooses the foolish, weak, and silly to show God’s love, grace, mercy, and power to transform ugly into beautiful. (#464-470)

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

Social media makes it easy to create fake portrayals of ourselves. While it’s possible to share too much, I grow weary of all the “I have it all together” super-people posts. Posts like this discourage me and make me question whether God can use a screw-up like me.

I need to know that you are foolish and weak too, and that God has chosen you and is working through you in spite of or because of your weakness.

I’ve discovered that when I share things like this, you find encouragement too. (#471)

life: unmaskedSo, let’s do it. Take down the masks and be real with one another. Share slices of real life from the previous week… the real, un-photoshopped, deal. Be honest about our brokenness, and rejoice in how God works in and with us anyway. We all have real-life messes, slip-ups, and embarrassing moments, and we all can find God’s grace in those moments. We’ve all learned simple but profound lessons that could help another through the rough patches of life we all have to go through… if we will share them.

Life: unmasked buttonJoin me and write unmasked once a week. Encourage others with your story. Invite them to lose their mask too. Write your story any day of the week, grab the Life: unmasked button code in my left sidebar, and share it here on Wednesdays in the linky I’ll have up. If you are blogless, write your story in the comments or if you prefer a more private approach, type it up in Word. Email it to me if you’d like. (I will not share it with anyone.)

I look forward to living life: unmasked with you.

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Comments

  1. Joy, you have blessed me time and again by your joy and faith unmasked. May Jesus continue to write His story in you, drawing others to write their stories along with you here on “Life: Unmaksed” Wednesdays!
    Faith Barista Bonnie recently posted..What Season Of Faith Are You Walking Through?My Profile

  2. Joy, this could not have come at a more apropos moment – today’s post was about “getting real.” This Life: Unmasked challenge offers me a focal point for that “getting real” – It is my privilege to add the badge to my blog and to blog to that theme each week. In fact to be involved with with you and Amy and others brings a smile to my face. Wow, i’m daunted by this – but I think it’s a challenge I needed – another push towards exploring the gifts we’ve been given and living faithfully as messes in the middle of the beautiful mess of life.
    Anna recently posted..Get RealMy Profile

  3. Joy, I wish we lived closer so I could give you hug, listen over coffee. But I’ve been blessed and challenged through your “unmaskedness.” I can’t wait to join you on Wednesdays.
    Sarah@From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell recently posted..Unveiling The Dark Jane Austen Book ClubMy Profile

  4. LOVE it!! Will pray about how to integrate it into our crazy life. One of my girls (adopted from foster care) is in a residential facility now and we’re all over the place doing visitations and treatment team meetings to help her heal. If I’m not here in word, I’ll be here in prayer, my friend! Thanks for the invite.
    Laurie @mylivingpower recently posted..How To Get Your Husband To Pick Up His Dirty Socks (GIVEAWAY POST)My Profile

  5. Thank you for the deep breath for my soul today. As I lay on my bed this morning unwilling to get up, I thought about how social media has distorted my reality. Picture perfect lives of people having, doing and saying all the right things and me feeling like a misfit. Thanks for being real…that meant a great deal to my battered heart today.
    Karen Cook recently posted..How’s your vision?My Profile

  6. The thought of writing unmasked actually excites me. I try to be myself, but this would take it a step further. I may have my own link up on Wednesdays beginning in October, but I will try to link up as the Lord allows.
    Barbie recently posted..The Grace for ChangeMy Profile

  7. I think this is a great idea. Let us not revel in our messiness, but rather see how God’s glory shines through it. :) I think I might have to join in. ;)
    Christin @ Joyful Mothering recently posted..Why Devotions With Your Children Are ImportantMy Profile

  8. YES!! Perfect … and I cannot wait to join in with you on Wednesday. Thank you for leading us into “real” … we have wandered in the weariness of appearance for too long.
    Teri Lynne Underwood recently posted..Overflowing GraceMy Profile

  9. Oh this is good stuff Joy. Really, good. I’ve been tossing masks left and right lately! :) Feels weightless….
    Stacey recently posted..So I’m Hosting a Little (in)RL Meet-Up! Wanna Join Me?My Profile

  10. i love you so much. this post is just one more reason why. thank you for being my friend. xo.
    Elizabeth Esther recently posted..Motherhood is not my highest callingMy Profile

  11. I am in! As soon as I get an audio/video of the last talk I gave, I will share it with you. We share similar words and definitely the Same Spirit.
    Thank you for this.

  12. My last post was just taking down the mask and it’s life. The worries ~ the mess that life is. Thank you for keeping it real. Jen
    Jen recently posted..Just Tired. . .My Profile

  13. listening, reading, and sending peace and endurance prayers your way. thank you for your transparency and willingness to be vulnerable. It’s beautiful stuff. Really. The despair, the inner homelessness, these are things I can identify with.
    Frelle recently posted..Guest Posting – War StoryMy Profile

  14. well, if you haven’t guessed it by now, the topic of transparency has become one of my life passions. after having been raised in a fish bowl with a full throttle emphasis on performance, i am ever grateful for the Lord opening my eyes to the freedom that is ours in Him to be human — namely through a good example called my sister, as well as a book i read one time that was an articulation of everything the Lord was impressing upon my heart at the time. heavy chains that He was ready, willing, & able to break.

    and my transparent two cents for today? i feel like i still STINK at practicing it! at which point those w/ strong “black & white” tendancies like myself would say in a (less-than-gracious) 5-yr-old voice, “then you really don’t believe it.” . . . but i do. (and i’m proud to say that i’ve found all KINDS of grey in life, thank you very much.) :) it definitely helps to have others’ examples (b/c they’re great V8 moments of “oh, so THAT’s what it looks like to be transparent!”). but the messages were so deeply ingrained that i’m just grateful that i’m at least finding freedom on the INSIDE, even if it’s NOT spilling out yet!

    and on a more seemingly trivial level is the fact that while i love the new feature on FB that shows our posts from “this day” a year or two ago, this has been a really hard week of past posts to read. last yr on 9/16 (3 days from now), i began a health crisis that i’m still finding my way out of. so i read a post from a yr ago saying that i was so excited to go back to church after having missed it for 2 weeks. little did i know, it would be the last time i’d be physically able to set foot in church for the following 7 MONTHS . . . and another post from today last yr that said that it’s a good night for take-out. little did i know, it would be the last time i would have the freedom to eat (normal food) like the rest of the world for — well, i still don’t know if/when i’ll be able to.

    and while i wish i could share all these great things about how the Lord has used my past year (& counting) of literal, physical weakness to do great things in or through me, i honestly don’t know what it’s all about. i toggle b/t expectations of God (doing great & mighty things in & through me) & expectations of myself (that i’d come out of this a dynamically different person). but i don’t feel like i’ve had any huge epiphanies, nor do i know if God is using it to impact someone else. and it may be that it’s just as simple as something God wants to experience more clearly about who He is & my relationship with Him. but if that’s His plan, then i haven’t quite caught onto the theme yet. so i know He doesn’t owe it to me to reveal these things, but it’s still hard nonetheless to feel like i don’t even have a tiny clue as to His awesome plan for this journey. but i know this. i know He HAS one. so i will keep walkin’ by faith, whether i get any “feel good” vibes out of it or not. ;)

    thanks for your transparency, joy. i am convinced that transparency is a tool that is so powerful that satan will do all he can to stifle it. so i’m going to keep fighting the good fight. nah, i’m going to let Christ fight it for me. :)

    blessings to the Bs tonight,
    TZ

    p.s. can i get up (from lying on your therapy couch) now? ;)

  15. I love this. I do try to write each of my blogs as “life unmasked” but sometimes I would just rather portray an “I have it all together,” kind of life. Thanks for the reminder that it is ok that I screw up sometimes, and even in that, GOD is using me.

    If you have a free minute and would like to see some of my blogging, you can find it here: http://candicejenee.blogspot.com.

    I pray that GOD would bless you and continue to use your words to bless others.
    Candice Jenee’ recently posted..Big News!My Profile

  16. I love this idea. Reading this post, I totally relate to you on feeling broken. I find the “I have it all together and dinner on the table to boot” posts to be frustrating and sometimes anterior to what I feel a blog is most useful for. We need to be real with each other. I’m so looking forward to participating in this project. Thank you for the opportunity. :)
    Krystal recently posted..I’ve got the joy, joy, joy … where?My Profile

  17. I’m visiting from Elizabeth’s ‘Saturday Evening Blog Post,’ This post is so beautiful and I will remember your family and your sweet daughter Elli in my prayers this month.
    Rebecca recently posted..Saturday Evening Blog PostMy Profile

  18. This is great, to the point, and dispels so many myths at once. Your summary was so shocking to me – is it really taught that Catholics are heretics or demons? I’ve always seen them as our forerunners of the faith…going where others refused to go for centuries now. I know some in my own family (former Catholics, ironically) have a huge struggle with priests as Fathers (and indeed Jesus said “call no man father but for me”) and the doctrine of reincarnate Eucharist (which they see as sacrificing Christ afresh each mass). I have struggled with the Eucharist in Catholic churches as through marriage I am now part of one great big Catholic family. My question, re-reading these verses and watching your vlog, is: What if Jesus offers Himself afresh as a sign to us, the still suffering? A sign of the great wonder that is transformation through suffering, a sign pointing to His finishing grace in accepting His cross?
    Genevieve @ Turquoise Gates recently posted..The blessing of the GiverMy Profile

  19. Beautiful encouragement… just when I was wondering “Am I foolish for being so open about my struggles?” THANK YOU!!!
    Aaron recently posted..Struggle: Abiding in the struggle IMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I hope you’ll join in with the community Joy is building with Life: Unmasked. [...]

  2. [...] Anna Blanch on September 14, 2011 This challenge and invitation from Joy could not have come at a more apropos moment – monday’s post was about “getting [...]

  3. It’s Embarrassing… « A Beautiful Abode says:

    [...] That quote, from a newsletter that Matt writes for the magazine Fearless, caught my attention just as I was contemplating what I’d write for my first post as part of Joy’s new Wednesday meme, Life: unmasked. [...]

  4. [...] My blog friend Joy floated an email around to handful of us a few weeks ago about a new writing project: what if we, as bloggers, dedicated a post a week to pulling back the pretense that sometimes comes with the territory of writing in the public eye and wrote raw, organic reflections? Beyond what some of us may already do on our digital spaces, Joy challenges us in this project to dare an address such things as underwear left scattered on the bedroom floor and that coffee mug I still haven’t remembered to clean out, as well as the serious, real ache of simply being. This is a brilliant, creative idea and so, from this Thursday on, I hope to dedicate this point in the week to the challenge of this sort of reflection. Starting with today. Please join us. [...]

  5. [...] forget the life:unmasked weekly link-up right here. Post your life:unmasked post (video, photo, poetry, or prose) any time [...]

  6. [...] you to everyone who participated in the launch of life: unmasked last week. Your posts were exactly what I had hoped for — honest, bare, God-filled, hopeful. [...]

  7. [...] thinking about it and struggling with it for a very, very long time. When I found Joy’s new Life: Unmasked project, I couldn’t think of a better topic to begin the unmasking of my own [...]

  8. [...] including essays by two Deeper Story writers (yours truly and Tamara Outloud). Linked to life: unmasked, a blog link-up encouraging us to take off our masks and show how we are finding God in our mess. [...]

  9. [...] to life: unmasked, a blog link-up encouraging us to take off our masks and show how we are finding God (or how God is [...]

  10. [...] was blessed to be encouraged by Joy and Kelli.  Stop by and visit these women as [...]

  11. [...] to life: unmasked, a blog link-up encouraging us to take off our masks and show how we are finding God in our mess. [...]

  12. [...] I know this is true, and since I’ll be meeting some of you soon, and since it’s life: unmasked day here at the blog, I give you ten random things about me in real [...]

  13. [...] is life: unmasked, a blog link-up for bloggers willing to get real, take off our masks, and show how we are finding [...]

  14. [...]   Join me and a few of my bravest friends for life: unmasked, a weekly blog link-up where we get real about our struggles and questions and failures. We also [...]

  15. [...] it’s ok. Here’s the skinny: One participant of this week’s life:unmasked link-up (click here for the back story on life:unmasked) will be selected to win one item from the World Vision Given store! Write (or upload if you do a [...]

  16. [...] later” is really turning in a never-ending game and it is getting old. I guess this is my first life:unmasked post (and hopefully it will not be the last [...]

  17. [...] of writing the life:unmasked post I had planned to write, I spent last night with my husband, hashing out a recent blog post of [...]

  18. [...] wouldn’t be involved in Life:Unmasked if it wasn’t for this challenge and invitation  from the lovely, Joy. This post I wrote about “getting real” prompted my involvement with [...]

  19. [...] wouldn’t be involved in Life:Unmasked if it wasn’t for this challenge and invitation  from the lovely, Joy. This post I wrote about “getting real” prompted my involvement with [...]

  20. [...] wouldn’t be involved in Life:Unmasked if it wasn’t for this challenge and invitation  from the lovely, Joy. This post I wrote about “getting real” prompted my involvement with [...]

  21. [...] ever run across. It is at the heart of the weekly blogging meme I started this year called life:unmasked (link up here on Wednesdays). It is the heart and soul of what and why I write. I originally [...]

  22. [...] wouldn’t be involved in Life:Unmasked if it wasn’t for this challenge and invitation  from the lovely, Joy. This post I wrote about “getting real” prompted my involvement with [...]

  23. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  24. [...] Don't miss a post — subscribe to my RSS feed or email. Thanks for visiting!For today’s life:unmasked, I’m featuring a post by Hilary, who blogs at Sittin’ There on Capitol Hill. Her fresh [...]

  25. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  26. [...] Wednesdays we gather to share our unmasked moments from the week. We take off the everything’s-FINE false front and share what we are learning in our [...]

  27. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  28. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  29. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  30. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  31. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, take off their mask, and write naked. We have tremendous capacity to encourage one another in our [...]

  32. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, take off their mask, and write naked. We have tremendous capacity to encourage one another in our [...]

  33. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  34. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, take off their mask, and write naked. I believe being real about our hard days has tremendous [...]

  35. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, who will take off their mask with me, and write naked. Being real about our hard days has [...]

  36. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  37. [...] great model of this writing comes from Joy Bennett who started the Life:unmasked blog meme which encourages writers to take down the masks and be real with each other. If you write for [...]

  38. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to take off their “everything is fine” mask and write naked. You can keep it simple and just share a photo, you can get artistic and write a [...]

  39. [...] of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing [...]

  40. [...] Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to take off their “everything is fine” mask and write naked. You can keep it simple and just share a photo, you can get artistic and write a [...]

  41. [...] Wednesdays I host the Life:Unmasked meme, where we dare to take off our masks, write naked, and share the real us. The instructions are simple: include a link back to this post [...]