As I traveled to Athens for the Georgia-Missouri game a few weeks ago, we stopped at Chic-fil-a to grab a bite. I was enjoying my sweet tea and chicken biscuit when Paul (my distant relative) looked at me and said, "Hey, your top is coming off."
Immediately, I glanced down and was reminded that the top I wore that day was a crew neck t-shirt. I was fully covered. No wardrobe malfunctions here.
When my head and eyes moved back up to see Paul's face, he was embarrassed but laughing. He then pointed to the lid on my drink that was precariously off center. Obviously, "top" had referred to the lid on my cup, not my clothing. The rest of the day any lid that was removed from a cup became "a top coming off" reference.
I was thankful that I was not exposed that day. I was safe, covered.
My desire for safety often leads me to cover more than just my skin. Sometimes, I want to hide the real me and put a stronger, more respectable persona out there for people to like and admire. Sometimes, I don't want others to see my faults, my failings, my fights. Because if you know what I'm really like, you might not want to hang out with me. I fear the real me might be rejected, so I put on my "game face" and I show up to play.
With the game face intact, I can "wow" people with my greatness. I can be in the zone, score lots of points, make amazing plays, and get my name down in the record book of "Moms of the Century" or "Who's Who in Christian Service." I can make a name for myself.
But, I can never be known.
None of my all-star performances will provide the very thing I need most in life: intimacy.
Intimacy is my greatest need (your's too) because this is how God designed us. The Father created me to be known and to know others. I am fashioned for relationship with Him and for relationship with others. My game-on performance keeps me working to impress. You may enjoy hanging out with me, but you won't really know me. I will go home and review my plays and look for flaws in my defense. I'll remain a player, not a friend.
And I'll be alone, isolated, and lonely even with lots of people around me. My fears will keep me there.
There is only one thing powerful enough to overcome fear. It is perfect love.
"There is no fear in love," God tells us in 1 John 1:18-19. "But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us."
When I believe that I am loved and accepted, I can begin to relax and embrace that I am not in danger. The helmet, face mask, and shoulder pads can be laid aside. I can begin to risk that even if you don't like what you see, I am still cherished, loved, and valued by my Father.
I've got to trust what God says about me. Because while I do want to avoid wardrobe malfunctions, I don't want to hide behind a face mask.