The Outward Face of Illusion

This is rather difficult piece to write for many reasons… It may be difficult for you to step into my perspective and therefore difficult for you to comprehend what exactly I am about to attempt to explain. So please bear with me should I not find the words to adequately articulate the ramifications of what it is I am trying to say. Now that I’ve given some preface to this, let me try to explain this strange position I find myself.

I am not who you think I am. At least, I’m not the perception of me that you have. Whether I’ve met you in person or you’re someone I’ve never been in contact with, I am not the representation that you have interacted with. You may find yourself asking me, ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ Well, if your basis of me is purely the projection I put out both in a physical sense and then as an internet sense, you are only seeing the good that I put out here. ‘What do you mean,’ I can hear you asking. I’m not the happy, optimistic person that you have interaction with.

This is crazy, especially from the position that I’m in. I am a happy individual, don’t let this post fool you. I seek out good things, I enjoy the simple pleasures of the company of others, I take solace in entertainment, and other things that we might find that make us feel ‘happy.’ In an attempt to put my ‘best self’ forward, I suppress the other feelings, emotions, concerns that weigh my soul down. The best example of this can be seen on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram where I proclaim my joy, excitement, appreciation, and all the good I find in the world. However, in an act of being positive toward the onlooker, you will find little to suggest that I deal with doubt, confusion, pain, sadness, depression, anger, frustration, and the myriad of other ‘negative.’

What might be most worrisome, is that this facade is not limited to the internet. It’s a mask of sorts. Granted, there is some merit to being a positive person. Even in person, interacting with peers, I give little evidence to suggest that there are underlying problems that I face within my own mind and soul. I wonder who, if any, can see through the facade. Granted, facade is not the best term to describe what it is that I’m feeling. Putting the ‘best stuff’ of our personalities, lives, and engagements is a natural response to the interaction with others. It could be suggested that this is a defense mechanism to protect the ego, the mask the flaws, to hide the pain which is caused by the inherent sin that is in each and every one of us.

Perhaps what I am describing is that I’ve closed myself off to others, hiding the pains which can drag me down. Yet, that is not what I suspect as being the matter. I am that happy person who enjoys playing four square, talking about movies, and debating the nature of theology. I’m also that person who is torn between dissatisfaction. I’m also the one who is burdened with frustrations. Filled with shame, disgrace. Wrestling with chasing desires and knowing that the time has yet to come. I’m the one who loves to laugh, to play games, to be surrounded by the numerous wonderful people God has placed in my life. So why do I only put out the good, and who can see past the exterior and see the interior?

Obviously, in an answer that I already know, nobody has their act together. Looking by our social media streams one is seeing an illusion, seeing the outward happiness and ‘put togetherness’ of other’s lives. I mean, just look at them! They’re engaged, traveling world, they have bright smiles in their eyes, they’re buying houses, and, the selling point of this illusion, they have their lives in order. What an illusion! Even going through my own social media, you may get that impression. I expect you too. And the people who I see week in and week out, may even come to the same conclusion.

How many of them have seen me in a state of sadness? Depression? Anger? Truthfully, next to none. I’m positive that many, if not all, have felt like I do in this sense. What I find disturbing, in myself and in this pattern of self-censorship, is how easy it is to hide the deep, dark pains we experience. Throughout high school, and more rarely now, when someone could tell that something was off or out of the norm they would ask “Are you ok?” Only to be met with the answer of “I’m fine” or the more doubtable answer of “I’m just tired.” These answers highlight the problem. We hide what we see as weakness. We don’t want, subconsciously, to burden others with our personal dilemmas, so we put on a mask. We do not want to appear weak or in need, as to be thought lesser of.

What you may notice is how in one fell move, I’ve proceeded to address my issues and immediately analyze and answer it. I’m sorry, but my mind just functions like that. And this is where I find myself as I’ve addressed elsewhere, probably Facebook, of knowing both the problem and the solution and yet still being plagued with it. Like knowing that four is the sum of two plus two, but being stuck at the fact that the problem still has to be solved by the process of transcending the parts of the whole. If that previous sentence caused you confusion or a double take… sorry, I’m just a confusing person who can’t seem to put language into a medium of understanding. Then again, I’ve never set out to be the most articulated person whose language and grammar transcends the merits of conventional colloquialism that progresses in conversation of a digestible form. Yes, I’m being pedantic, used for comedic effect and to drive the point home. Anyway, returning to the subject at hand.

My point is this, you have not seen all of me. And perhaps this blog and this post is me being vulnerable. Opening up in a way that social convention doesn’t allow. Besides, who wants to see a man lose control of his emotional state in public? Then again, who wants to witness anyone lose control of their emotions? It’s not a pretty sight, at least initially. Yet, there is something beautiful in breaking the socially accepted rules of engagement, especially in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have shed the outwardly representing we give to others to interact with. We are vulnerable and naked before the Lord who has taken the burden we just cast off, and embraces us with grace, mercy, and unconditional love to which we cannot fully comprehend.

There I go again, answering my own questions. It’s silly of me really, especially now, because it’s an endless cycle for me. Lord help whomever I may marry, if it is in your will, cause my cycle of questions and rhetorical answering never ceases. On another note, should I ever begin to court someone or marry them, I’ll need to find a new barber… but that’s a story for another time. Perhaps what I’m trying to make clear to you, metaphorical reader because I have little indication whether you read all of this or just the title, is that I look for the goodness in others. I try to, when appropriate, comment on it. When somebody goes out of their way to help another. Or someone who has taken on a role like worship leader. Or when someone simply does something unnoticeable. And it’s that, the unnoticeable. We, I, don’t always look for the unnoticeable. We are superficial like that. People do all sorts of things for good reasons, not to be noticed. This is obviously a good thing, but that does not negate the fact that we all need someone to sometimes come along and touch our spirits by noticing them. Inversely, we also need people to sometimes see past what is seen and touch what is saddening us. To lovingly address our exposed pain, and to share in our pain, sadness, confusion, frustration. We could and should be more like this, especially in social circles within the Church, capital ‘C’ for a purpose.

I’m beginning to believe that I’m now in a cyclical pattern of thought, though I might not be. I may be chasing quite a few tangents, which is a likely outcome. Probably because I’m an insane person the exists on the fringes of genius and madness, joy and grief, compassion and selfishness, or in summation a sinner. I am appreciative of all the wonderful people who God has surrounded me with, don’t let me fail to emphasize that, which has been the greatest blessing on my life. And as I’ve stated in person and on social media, I’ve gotten to witness just how God is working in their lives! Perks of being a media person who literally exists in the back of the room, unseen. I literally could not function without them! I’m sometimes shocked that I can somewhat function around them, cause you know the whole crazy person thing. Yet, as you get to read what started out as a heavier piece from me and that has now turned into an analytical examination of my own thoughts as I type this. Yes, I am typing this at the same time as I am thinking about other things, which is rather odd… Back to the point.

I’m so grateful for all my peers, the Godly men and women that have helped shape not only my life, but the lives of their peers over the last year and a half. I’m grateful that they too, are complex creatures which deal with the same issues I do. And if there’s anything that this therapeutic piece has taught me, it’s that we are all broken by sin. We all carry some burden. The happy cheerful exteriors are true, they are real. Manifestations of the goodness of the greatness of God which is reflected in our lives. And the broken, conflicted interiors are true as well, even my own insecurities, which are the results of my sin. Fortunately, it won’t always be this way. Yet, in this time on Earth, I am glad that I can be true no matter what exterior ‘mask’ is being worn. Perhaps, I must be more willing to be exposed and vulnerable around others. More willing to listen before responding. Casting off the worldly judgement and speaking truth in response. Once again, answering my own proposed questions with answers I already knew. I guess that this is one means by which the spirit and flesh combat.

The flesh posing questions that have already been answered, and the spirit immediately answering with a mic-drop. Like, I mean an instantaneous response. As if the flesh hasn’t even finished the question and it’s been answered. That might not make sense to you, which is understandable. I will not deny that I might not be the most ‘sane’ of individuals, but professionals will need to be the final call. Ahem, calling Dr. Christ. Levity aside, it is true the only the Lord can definitively give truth to us, especially in areas where we have improvements to make. I feel have once against changed from the original topic, and yet continue to write at the same time as having the thought, like a conversation. Only you can’t speak back… very once sided of me… but you voluntarily came here. So blame yourself?

Ergo, to wrap this up. We all put our best selfs forward, and that is not a bad thing. But failing to recognize that not people are not wholly who they represent themselves to be, can cause misguided expectations… and now I’m writing to myself again. The ‘bad’ things that we pack away and hide from others, are not bad in essence. Our pains, sufferings are not our own the bear. Our insecurities, of which I have many, and uncertainties are not indicative of things we are lacking. And being vulnerable, particularly in the company of believers, is not something to fear or hide. Sorry for not having a neat bow to tie up this post, but I think I’m going to end it here. Somewhere between the beginning and the end. For now, thanks for stopping by, and as always… have a nice day.


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