On Saturday I participated in an American tradition. It was a new experience for me. I went on a “Bar Crawl.” It was one of my friend’s birthday weekend and a Mardi Gras themed bar crawl was how she wanted to celebrate. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this unique experience – basically you are given a map of several bars in the area and try and stop in as many as you can in a several hour time period. Each bar will have photo opps for your groups and food and drink specials. The experience as a whole was enjoyable and I would definitely do another one if the opportunity presented itself.
But I learned some things about myself that would bring me back to earth the following day as I reflected on the events that had transpired. And by saying “I learned” what I really mean is I was merely reminded as I have already learned these truths long ago.
First: My lust gets stronger the more I drink
This has been a pattern ever since I started drinking alcohol socially. I do not believe that I am an alcoholic. I am able to stop drinking when I want. However, my sexaholism often times comes to the surface when I am out drinking late and sharing space with a lot of pretty (scantily clad) women! That is when the powerlessness definitely kicks in.
Also I am far less likely to pray and surrender the lust to my Higher Power (or make calls) when I am intoxicated. So bottom line – alcohol (though it is not a drug for me) can cause me to be vulnerable to my disease of lust. Finding balance in this area is an ongoing struggle for me.
Second: I wear masks and it’s just not natural.
A really fun part of the bar crawl was seeing everyone in their costumes. Colorful wigs, beads, hats and of course – the masks. I picked out a mask that looked more like a superhero disguise than a Mardi Gras mask. I would put it on several times throughout the night and each time I felt like I could be a different person. If I wanted to be overly goofy then the mask enabled me to be that guy without reservation. If I wanted to be the cool and confident stud of the group – boom! Superhero mask to the rescue. If I wanted to be the strong, silent type hanging out in the back sipping his Jack and Coke then I could be that guy too.
But inevitability I took the mask off. It was uncomfortable and unnatural. I wanted to just be me. My friends still liked me when the mask was off too – go figure! Eventually I decided to put away the mask and it felt great.
Many of us choose to put on “masks” because we want an imaginary life that will fool people into thinking we are something that we are not.
I still have several masks that I have refused to throw away:
I have the professional mask that I put on at work. This mask is designed to hide any sign of incompetence. It says to everyone – “I am a master teacher and an expert in my subject area.” I think by wearing it that I will be respected. I must shed this mask because I cannot learn from others and truly grow as an educator. I must shed it because I cannot connect with my students when I project myself to be on a higher plain as them. I want my fellow teachers and my students to see the real me in the hallways, the classroom and the court.
I have the social mask that I put on when I am out in public settings. This mask is designed to hide any sign of awkwardness, dorkiness and general uncoolness. It says to everyone – “I am the most interesting 36 year old you will ever meet. Don’t you want to hang out with me?” I think by wearing it people will think I am cool and unique. I must shed this mask because I cannot form meaningful relationships when I live in my pride and ego. If I want to impress you then I am not thinking of you at all – it’s all about me.
I have the spiritual mask that I put on when I attend church or any religious event. (this even includes SA meetings) This mask is designed to hide any sign of sin. It says to everyone – “I am a super Christian, a man of faith that lives life by following Biblical principles.” I think by wearing it people will respect me and view me as a spiritual giant. I buy into the lie that screams, “They can’t handle the truth!” So I hide the truth from them to “protect” them from my demons inside. I must shed this mask because I cannot impact people in a genuine way if I am hiding my character defects. People can’t relate to someone they think is perfect in the eyes of everyone. I need to lead with my weakness and trust God that He will speak through my brokenness. And if I have victories I must celebrate them by giving all credit to Him and taking none of the glory. Humility must be how I live.
When I put these masks on then I am living a lie. They are a device of manipulation. It may seem harmless and insignificant on the surface. As a recovering addict this is still a big deal. Any lie that allows my disease (which is rooted in deception and pride) to take hold is a step backwards. I must embrace a life lived in rigorous honesty where I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I must live my life as if I am under oath because as a Christian and a man committed to recovery – I am always under oath!
Putting on a mask is to deny the truth about myself – that I am loved by the only one that matters.
Masks shut me off from the truths about my Creator:
That He loves me more than I could ever love myself. That He will never turn His back on me. That He puts people in my life that accept me for me but also will call me on my shit and challenge me like Nathan challenged David. That He will always give me what I need. That I don’t have to be something that I am not.
And finally and ultimately, sending His Son as THE Truth and ironically going on trial and committing perjury on my behalf. I cannot handle this truth sometimes but it’s okay.
I don’t have to handle this truth because He already handled it for me.