chocolate covered faces hide hurting heartsI had posted signs for a ladies’ home Bible study at the local gym, bookstore, and grocery store resulting in more calls than I had anticipated, but feeling blessed I pressed into the Word and prepared for what would be a twelve week study.  One of the women who contacted me offered her home for the study.  I was turning cartwheels since that meant I wouldn’t have to get my own house company clean each week!  That unexpected blessing gave me time to jazz up my delivery and take extra care in presenting myself as their group leader. 

Armed with the booklets I’d printed, I made the 30 minute drive for the first meeting and discovered twelve women, all strangers except one, waiting expectantly.  I had confidently dressed, prepared, prayed, and left my children all set for the evening.  After a rousing introduction to the group, I settled in for the part that always seemed to matter most, the part where the women shared, revealed a part of themselves, made themselves transparent to one another. It always seemed that this brokenness is where and how God worked in our lives as a study group and as individuals.  I slowly scanned the room, looking around at the faces, young, older, eager, afraid, open, each mentally preparing what they would share. One face caught and held my gaze from across the room.  It was mine, reflected in a wall mirror directly across from me.  And what I saw there caught me entirely off-guard.

I, the one leading this Bible study, looked absolutely shattered.  It was as if the pretty mask I had put on moments earlier as I enthused about the study and prayed for our little group had been ripped from my face, exposing hurts and truths that I didn’t admit to myself.  I couldn’t stop staring at that broken, tired-looking, hopeless woman.  And I wondered what in the world I was doing there trying to minister to other women?  Why would God let me sit here and embarrass myself in front of these strangers?  How could I pretend to have it all together when it was written all over me that I didn’t?  In fact, of all the faces gathered, mine seemed to shout misery, misery, misery, and who wants a part of that?

The touch of the hostess’ hand on my arm recalled me to the twelve pair of expectant eyes glued to mine.  “We want to pray for you before we begin,” she said.  This lovely woman lifted me to the Lord and as heads bowed and the prayer was spoken I did something ridiculous.  I looked back in the mirror.  

I don’t know what I expected to see but my appearance didn’t change, there was no apparition or glowing angels or anything noticeable at all.  Yet inside of me I made a decision to be real about my own life struggles.  Only by exposing my own weaknesses could the strength of my relationship with Christ become transparent.  And that’s what this was all about, really.  Living a relationship with the Lord. 

Women, and probably men, too, tend to cover themselves with the mask of perfection to hide our hurts.  It’s like we take a dip in chocolate and the nutty, gooey center that is our life can’t be seen.  Prettier that way, but I think it plays into the lie that Christians are perfect people when in fact we aren’t and can’t be, but our God is.  I think it sometimes pushes away those who see us beaming our luscious chocolate coating that seems to say I’m better than you, I handle things better than you, I have made better choices than you, I’m happier (see my grimace, I mean, smile) than you.  Sometimes I think we have to show our own hurts and broken hearts so that others can see what’s holding us together isn’t us or that chocolate candy we’ve wrapped so tightly around ourselves.  We’re covered by a constantly loving Lord who is also our center and that’s really something worth biting into.     

 

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