I have been hurt, seriously hurt in life. I think we all have in some way or another. I am convinced within myself that many of our differences are there as a result of how we handle these hurts and not so much about our personalities during good times. That is easy. Everyone can be good when it is all easy and light and happy. But when crushed in spirit, dealt a painful blow, the kind that changes so many people, we can see what people believe. I can see what I believe. If I believe that God truly is in control, I can truly do anything and allow God to heal me and take the pain away one day at a time, one thought at a time. If I believe I can handle it all myself because of my pride, I can get very different. I can put on a mask I invented that looks a lot like stereotypical “normal” (whatever the heck that is) or “cool” or “popular” and can look amazing but all the while be hiding from the pain, the emotions that push us down and keep growth or intimacy at bay. I have done this. I think we all have in automatic man mode. The One who can heal us so we can put the masks down is God. Other than that, we are all a society of mask-laden people fighting hard to keep on the mask, focusing more and more on ourselves and what is needed to keep the mask on. Somehow the pain and energy of keeping up with the mask seems less of a burden than the pain that is involved with healing. It becomes very selfish. Not letting someone see the real you because you don’t want to risk the pain. This is referring to results of pain, not personality types. Some people just innately build a shell of protection and gradually warm up to let people in. These beautiful people I love are cut that way. I am referring to those who are wounded by a past relationship, parent, rape, death, accident, unfaithfulness, addictions, whatever the case may be and instead of honestly dealing with their pain, they become almost obsessed with covering it up with this false mask or presentation of one’s self. The problem is if two people marry, masks can come between them, prevent honesty and subsequently intimacy. People cannot read minds. Sometimes we have to dare to trust the other person enough to give honesty a shot, have some daring conversations and see what happens. You might be surprised in a great way and be able to salvage a relationship and grow and heal together. Or, even better, you breakdown your pride and fears and allow God to heal you and love you as only He can and start leaving your fears in His hands and putting your mask away one prayer at a time. Then conversations between people can happen that deepen and grow the relationship. And I want that for you. God wants that for you. I want you to allow God to heal your heart and help you be able to have some conversations about what you need from your spouse/friend to continue healing and deepening the relationship. This is a step towards joy and peace in commitment and maybe the rest of life. The key is God with a healthy dose of courage and conversation. Very very difficult stuff but worth the effort. And even if it doesn’t work out and you are hurt again, you will know you had tried and feel greater satisfaction in that, you will have grown by testing your faith and courage, and God will help heal you again. He is so good like that. Food for thought.