Hiding Behind a Smile

Growing up in a dysfunctional family was not easy. It’s not easy when you can’t ask for help because your parents are sincerely afraid you will be taken from them by social services. It’s not easy because you were told as a young girl to pretend that everything is okay at home. Pretending especially in church that life at home was butterflies and roses because your parents and family were important members of the church. We couldn’t  be a disgrace to the Bowman name they said. That’s what we were told as kids, or maybe it was just me. Maybe I was the embarrassment  and disgrace to the family.

Regardless, I grew up with idea that I had to be someone different. So I always slapped a smile on my face to hide behind. I put on the mask of pretending that the little girl inside of me wasn’t broken and definitely didn’t need fixing. So walls were formed and chains were anchored.

Every challenge I faced as a teenager and young adult, I figured out how to solve it by myself. I figured out ways to do life alone. But that was just it. I was pretending to have it altogether and yet never ask for help. I never reached out to friends because I didn’t need them. I’ve been there and done it before by myself, why do I need a friend to help me through. No wonder why every one of my “best” friends abandoned me, I was a terrible friend, even though I thought I was the best friend anyone could have. I was so prideful on who I pretended to be, that I lost my true self.

Somewhere underneath the masks and behind the walls, there is a person God created for me to be. As I became a Christian my life changed. Walls that were built up tumbled down, chains were finally let go. But there was a problem; I became vulnerable and as a young girl, I was told never to be vulnerable. At first it was a great feeling of just trying to become myself. But ultimately the walls began to get built up again, chains of my past began to weld themselves back into place. It was were I was comfortable, as much as, I did not want to go back there.

I would say I am not exactly where I was before I became a follower of Jesus. But what I do know is my identity lies in Christ. I cannot dictate who I am, I cannot pretend to be someone I am not because that devalues Christ himself and what he died for.

I am slowly chipping away at the woman God created for me to be. But in order for me to pick up the chisel, I must first lay down my burdens and my sin at the foot of the cross and allow God to his will through me.

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