I remember the last time I was in drug rehab, I was working with a counselor who seemed overly focused on the way I dressed. This counselor and I went back and forth regarding my dressing behavior all the time. You see, every day when the group met, I was dressed to the nines. LOL
I had only been under treatment for a couple of weeks so of course, I was still sick in my mind and thought she was jealous and hating on me. WOW!
But there was a reason for her madness. As she explained, often wonderful people who have lived lives in trauma, addiction, grief, insecurity, fear, or have just been battered and bruised by life in general, can wear masks. And these masks can manifest in many different ways: clothes, jewelry, hair, make-up, smiles, tears, loudness, quietness, niceness, or meanness, just to name a few.
This counselor pondered on my need to feel set apart by my appearance in rehab. What could I be hiding? What was I trying to prove? Finally, after about two weeks of my “dressing up shenanigans,” I was given an assignment.
In her attempt to help me, my counselor challenged me to dress completely down for an entire day – mismatched clothes and shoes, no make-up, no jewelry, and no fancy hairstyle for an entire day! Well, I like a good challenge, and of course, wanted to prove her wrong – so, it was on! It was all the way on!
The following morning, I did my best to look as crazy as possible, quite proud of myself and confident that I was going to win this challenge! But when I came downstairs to the group to prove my point, I was hit with a big surprise.
Instead of having an in-house group, we were going to an outside meeting.
OH NO, NOT OUTSIDE!
My nerves rattled because I knew I would be surrounded by people who were unaware of the challenge and who didn’t know me and my style. But biting the bullet and making sure I wasn’t going to be defeated, I succumbed to her request and walked out of the facility with my tail between my legs.
“What were people going to think of me?” was the thought that overwhelmed my mind. How can I bounce back from this? But to my surprise, I received no negative comments or attention. As a matter of fact, the only person who was concerned about my appearance was me. No one else cared about the way I looked. We were all there to HEAL and to help each other stay clean and sober. My appearance was the least of their concerns.
It was then that I learned that my appearance should have been the least of my concerns too – especially, while I was trying to heal. I had much bigger fish to fry.
That day, my counselor proved a point to me and taught me something that changed my life. She wasn’t jealous, hating, or trying to stop me from looking my best. She wanted me to know that my healing comes from within. I can choose to heal, learn, grow, and prosper internally even if my life on the outside doesn’t match, isn’t pretty, or isn’t well thought-out for that day. I can choose to push through my day even when I don’t feel or look well put together. ‘Cause when life is “lifing” and doesn’t look its best, it’s ok to show up “JUST AS YOU ARE” because the beginning of healing can often look and feel not so pretty.
Taking off our masks can be scary and very uncomfortable. But in due time the masks must come off and the real you – the mismatched you – the broken you – the scarred you – the weak and frail you – and even the pretend strong you must surrender to the process of what healing has to offer. Because God can only heal the authentic you – the beautifully broken you!
Do I still love to dress my best? You better believe it! But today it’s not to camouflage, deflect, or to fit in. Today, it’s simply because I like to. I will never be caught “overdressed for the occasion” of healing again. What about you?
Lord, thank You for helping us to explore every amazing part of who we are in You. Thank you for leaving no stone unturned and no mask left on. May we always find it an honor and a privilege to heal, reach, and transform into the sons and daughters You have created us to be. For Your glory, we will do anything! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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