Taking Off My Mask

Over the last several weeks, Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life Church, has been teaching on a series called MasqueradeMasquerade is about the real side of ourselves that nobody else sees and tearing down the facade that we sometimes feel we must hide behind.

Yesterday he issued a challenge that we share with the people around us the things that may be keeping us from experiencing a real relationship with God and our community. I agree that when we build up huge walls it’s difficult, if not impossible, to see the world around us — as well as for people to see us for who we really are. I’ve been building an enormous castle for a very long time, but because of the Masquerade series I’ve decided it is time to smash it down. Letting down my guard may open myself up to attacks, but I am at a point in my life where I would rather face an outside enemy than keep the deadly enemy within myself constrained. It is time to stop lying and experiencing joy again.

I AM ANGRY

My dad passed away unexpectedly at the age of 51 in 1991. It has been nineteen years and there have been periods of time where this tragic event in my life was shuffled way back into my mind, but for some reason, I believe the pain is still there. It should not have been this way. However, I’m convinced that because of this event, it allowed me to find a loving God whom I never knew before and it dramatically changed my life for the best.

I’m also angry at how life has turned out in some ways. I shut down my own business to join a different business venture that ended only after two years. While there were many awesome and positive things that I experienced on that journey, there were also some big potholes on that rocked my world. It truly bothers me how it all ended up but I’m trying really hard to leave it all in the past.

I AM BITTER

Men usually base their value on what the world defines as being successful such as careers, wealth, and industry recognition.  I’m no different. I poured my life into two previous businesses that I hoped would be the ones I retired from, but they didn’t work out and I had to start over. I’ve paid my dues for over a decade and invested all I could into building my career, only to see younger or less experienced people fast-track on past me or reap much bigger fruits. Yet I also realize that I’m blessed in ways that truly matter and do my best to focus on the blessings instead of what I don’t have.

I AM SAD

Turning 40 and having a teenager turn 18 and getting ready to fly the nest in the same year feels like a double whammy.  No doubt these are awesome milestones to celebrate and embrace, but the reality is that I’ve really struggled with them.

I AM CYNICAL

My lack of belief and trust in most people has come through my experience of being stabbed in the back too many times by Christians and non-Christians alike.  My world has become jaded and the people I feel I can totally trust can be counted on one hand.  I’m like the wolf in Dances with Wolves – cautious, leery of humans, and at times prefer to just keep to myself.  These traits are neither healthy or beneficial, but it is how I have become.

I AM CHANGING

I’ve only touched the surface on some of the things that have robbed me of my joy and relationship with God. It’s been a rough few years!  But it’s time to let the wounds heal and to begin living a life filled with happiness again. My family has suffered because of my mood swings and I’ve not been the person I used to be. On the surface it may appear that I have it all together, but deep down these situations have caused much grief and suffering.

I’ll admit that I’m blessed beyond measure compared to so many people’s lives and situations, but in order for me to fully understand and accept this, I had to drop my mask today. I’m not sure if these admissions will hurt my business or credibility. I’m not sure if I’ll be ridiculed or mocked.  I do know this; it is time for me to bring change and that this is a very big step in the process. If this challenge on transparency heals the wounds and allows me a new freedom I haven’t experienced for some time, then it is totally worth any repercussions that may eventually come.

Thank you Pastor Craig for your challenge and for a smack down series at Life Church!

8 Comments

  1. BeckyM on November 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Sounds like you’re learning some big, important lessons. Thanks for the honesty. It doesn’t drive the right people away, it brings them closer. Keep making time to be introspective.

  2. Tara on November 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    James, this is an awesome post and I completely understand your feelings. I am there with you in more ways that you can imagine, fully supporting you in faith as you move forward on your journey.

  3. Howard M. on November 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Brother I love your openness and honesty. Transparency is something that is lacking in our churches and businesses. I am encouraged by your willingness and for me it has strengthened, (what was already extremely strong with me) your “street cred”

    You are a great man and in my opinion has shown the depth of that greatness. God will honor your transparency, and I feel that the value of transparency is that when people can see you with out the mask, they see the real you and when they look at the real you they see Christ in there. Because true transparency comes only out of a deep relationship with Jesus. A relationship that is built through complete trust and reliance in, on and through Christ. Paul said that,

    My Brother be encouraged today that you have also challenged me. Your a blessing.

  4. James Dalman on November 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Becky – as always I love it when you pour back into my life and share! I hope you know how MUCH I value your opinions and friendship.

    Tara – Thank you so much and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    Howard – Thanks for the encouragement and words. I am excited that we had the opportunity to meet and I so look forward to serving your ministry however I can.

  5. Jennifer Benham Miller on November 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Wow. I’m right there with you buddy. It’s the worst slap in the face to break your back for a “venture” you believe in… only to have the person you gave your allegiance to turn right around and stab you in the very same back you broke for him… It has only solidified in my heart that there is only ONE in WHOM we can really trust and depend on… only ONE WHO will never leave us or forsake us!

  6. J. D. Bentley on November 18, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    This post definitely didn’t hurt your credibility. I can only appreciate this kind of transparency and authenticity. I started watching Masquerade today just because of this post. So far I’m really liking it.

    I certainly hope the next few years bring more blessings for you than the last few. Thanks for all your honesty.

  7. James Dalman on November 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Jennifer – I don’t know what to say other than I agree that there is truly only One that we can ALWAYS trust in. Praying for you!!!

    JD- Thank you! I do believe that even though we go through trials in life that there are blessings that come through them. I’m glad that you started watching Masquerade – it really did help me.

  8. Michael Lane on November 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Wow, James — what you’ve laid out here is so admirable. This series has truly been incredible.

    I bet writing this felt very liberating!

    Also, thanks for the @ mention on twitter checking up on Paige and I — The poor deer suffered the most..

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