The first lie I can remember telling was to my Sunday school teacher. She asked if I was a ‘daily Bible reader’ that week. I said, ‘yes.’ Good little girls should be able to say yes to that question, shouldn’t they? I told that lie more than once.
Had I been honest – there would have been grace.
But I wasn’t looking for grace; I was looking for honor.
I was trying to hold the goodness within myself, but that’s not where goodness dwells.
So, I began to create a pseudo self: the good girl, the competent one, the righteous one. It reminds me of an essay by Anne Lamott, who talks of her delight that on Halloween we get to see folks as they are – as rascals and heroes and divas and such – instead of all dressed up in the costumes of everyday life – the power ties and high heels we wear to divert attention from our shaky knees.
It feels lonely behind that everyday mask. Yet, I am afraid to put it down. People might see the real me. Of course, I am the only one who is really surprised that I am not perfect. I bear my cardboard shield and all it does is keep me hidden from myself.
Well, that’s not actually all it does. It also robs me of opportunities for grace and connection. By upholding a false sense of my own self-contained wholeness, it keeps me from finding the wholeness that is real.
What if, for just a moment, I was to hold a mirror, instead of a mask?
What if I would glance into the mirror of God – a mirror that will reflect only the truth? What would I see?
I stand before that mirror and the mask is gone. When, at last, I dare to lift my eyes, I see my small and rumpled self. But I also see something else; something that washes all my fear aside. It is the Christ, whose eyes are fixed upon me and filled with deepest love.
The me – the real me – is the one that Christ so loved. There is no ‘good little girl.’ There is, instead, a woman – full of aches and holes – but also gifted. Gifted in just such a way that my part fits with yours.
And so I see that my words, through grace, might warm your heart; that your heart, through grace, might move your hands toward justice; might hold a child, might feed a hungry one, might speak comfort to a friend, might work against the powers that oppress.
Your lips might sing out a song of assurance and warm my heart in turn, and move my hands, my lips, as well, and shore up my resolve. Before the mirror, there is, at last, a wholeness, a wholeness woven through us all by the love and grace of God, a wholeness of connected grace.
It makes me smile.
I don’t really like high heels, anyway.
Celia Williamson is a guest writer for New Sacred. She is a lay member of First United Methodist Church in Denton, Texas. She is a wife, mother, educator, social worker, administrator, avid reader, amateur theologian, lover of words, and practitioner of imaginative meditation. She blogs at quiethope.com.