This is something I wrote quite a few years ago before I really understood how performance is a fig leaf used to try to hide personal imperfections. It’s a little long, but I hope it blesses somebody.
Brrr! The world is so cold. Why are they so cruel? Why do they treat me so poorly? I have done nothing to hurt them. Can’t they just love me for who I am? I need their love. Well, I need someone’s love. What should I do? It makes me so sad. Mourn.
An idea! I know! The theater! A costume! A mask! I will perform! They won’t be able to see the real me. They will love me. I need love. Oh, how I need love!
It’s opening night. I’m nervous. I’ve worked so hard. What if I fail? No! I must be positive. I can do it. The stage is set. My costume is perfect. My hair is perfect. And my performance – oh, what a performance! A standing ovation! They love me! What a feeling! I don’t think that it will ever end.
It’s morning. Last night seems distant – like a dream. The feeling is fading and I can’t stop it from going. I can feel my spirit empty as it leaves. I know! Tonight! Another performance. I’ll get it back! I’ll get the feeling back!
It’s almost show time. I best look in the mirror. Oh no! My hair isn’t right! My costume has a stain! My mask is cracked! I want to panic, but I can’t! Anxiety! A quick repair. I can still perform. I’m still good. I know I am.
Depression. Most applauded, but it was hollow. I’m sure I even saw a few smirking – kind of laughing under their breath. I’ll just have to be more careful. I’ll work harder. I’ll do better. I won’t let it happen again. It can’t happen again.
Work, work, work.
It seems as though I’ve been performing forever. I’m tired. I feel weary in my soul. Now I understand why Melinda closed the curtain on her life. She simply couldn’t–or wouldn’t–perform any longer. She saw no other way out. If only there were some other way out. There must be some other way. I’m tired of being perfect. There is just no room for weakness. If only someone would love me for who I am. I need love.
I’ve found her! She is so beautiful. I can hardly believe that she loves me. At least she says she does. We get so close so fast. It’s awkward at first, but we can be ourselves with each other. Well, maybe not completely, but more than ever before. We’re together so much. Separation is torment. I need her. She is the only one who understands me (does she?) and still cares. Joy.
But wait! Something is wrong! We are trying to drain love and approval from each other. It’s not healthy. We both know it, but we can’t bear to let go. We get closer still. We can’t seem to get close enough. We need to help each other to, to perform.
Work, work, work, work.
It’s not supposed to be this way. I thought that we could stop performing and just be ourselves. I’m still empty inside. But what else is there? Oh God, if only there were some other way. There must be some other way. Please, God, show me the way.
Wait a minute. What’s that? Another stage? Had that been there before? Yes, it had, but it held little interest. I paid no attention. Now I’m curious. I’ll draw closer. It seems so different. The people. They are different. They have no masks! No one is wearing a costume or mask, and they are smiling just the same. They’re looking at something. Wait, they’re looking at me! Who? Me? No. No thank you. I’d kind of like to join you, but you people are strange. I’ll just go back where I belong.
Work, work, work, work, work.
This isn’t working. I don’t want to be here any longer. I can’t stay here any longer. I feel so drawn to the other stage. But what about my friends? What about my goals? What about my dreams? They all are here. And what about, what about her?
Work, work, work, work, work, work.
Oh what agony! What frustration! I can’t stay here. I’ve got to go. I’ll leave my friends, my goals, my dreams. I’ll leave her. She won’t go with me. I’ll take just my luggage. Ugh. It’s heavy. I can’t leave it here. It’s all I have.
Oh, this is so warm, so beautiful. Everyone is so friendly. I must get closer. What’s that? All I have to do is accept Jesus. Hey, no problem. I should have done it years ago. They really like me here. They even want me to take off my mask. I don’t know. Well, okay. If they can be naked, I can too.
Oh no! Panic! They don’t like me without my mask! I thought that they would! What should I do? I’ll put on a different mask – one with a smile! I’ll look just like – like them! Hey, wait a minute! Most of these people are just like me! They are wearing their happy masks and carrying their bags. They are just like me. I’m so disappointed. I don’t like it here after all. I really thought that it would be different. There are so many rules.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, work.
Everyone is so busy. I still can’t make any mistakes. I still have to be perfect. I still must perform. We all are so careful to wear our masks and clutch our bags tightly.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work.
I know that I don’t like this, but what else is there? Wait! What? That’s strange! There are a few (very few) people without luggage. And I don’t think – I’ll get closer – that they are wearing masks. Hey, these people are real! And they are so warm! It’s genuine! I can hardly believe it, but it’s genuine. There is some kind of warm glow in their hearts. And they aren’t performing like everybody else. Can I trust them? I’ll test them. They do! They love me even when I take my mask off.
I wonder why there aren’t more of them. And how did they get to be like this? And where did they come from? Hey, where did you come from? That door? Do you mean the one that everybody is ignoring? It’s called what? Messiah? Are you serious? I thought that I met Him when I came to this stage. Oh, there’s more? I see. Well, I want to go in. I’ll see you la— Whoa! “NO BAGGAGE PERMITTED INSIDE!” Now I know why there are so few. Most don’t want to check their luggage at the door! Huh, neither do I. But I can’t stay here. It’s so hypocritical. I just can’t live this way.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work!
Okay, I’ll go in! No, I can’t. Yes, I can. Just one bag. What? No bags. Okay, I’ll go in. No, I can’t. I can. I can’t. I will. I won’t. Okay! Enough already! I’ll leave all my precious belongings at the door. If only there were some other way. But there isn’t. Here goes nothing.
Wow! Is this intense or what? It’s better than I could have ever imagined. Such perfect love! It’s just what I have always wanted! Finally, the cry of my heart has been answered! What’s that? A hand. It’s scarred! The scars. Somehow I know that they are there because of me. There is that warm glow right in the palm of His hand. He’s putting it inside me! It’s overwhelming! Now I understand! It’s part of Himself! What peace! What warmth! And He says that He will never leave me. In my heart I know that it’s true.
My mask is gone, burned away by His unconditional love. And my clothes? What happened? They are a brilliant white! And somehow–I don’t know how–He’s changing me on the inside as well. I don’t need a mask any more.
I wish that I could stay here forever. I know that I can’t. At least, not yet. I’m free to return as I wish, but His look of love tells me that I have work to do. Not work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work. Instead, a work of love. I need to lead others to the door. I’ll do it for Him. I’ll do it for them. It won’t be easy. In fact, it may be quite difficult. I really don’t feel adequate, but I’ll do it. I’ll do it just the same.
Yes, there are things for me to do, but I don’t need to do them to find love. I’ve found that already. I no longer have to perform. I needn’t be perfect any longer. I have found my Sabbath rest.