Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Mask

I have taken off my mask.

For just over two years, on two different blogs, I have shared a little bit of who I am. I am a follower of Christ. I am my wife’s friend as well as her husband. I am a father to three children. One of them is a cardiac kid who gave us quite the scare a few years ago. I am a homeschooler. Along the way, I have dropped hints of my familiarity with Alcoholics Anonymous. I am familiar with that program not because I am an alcoholic but because I am the adult child of an alcoholic. Most of all, I am grateful. I am happy to be alive and grateful to God for His protection and guidance along the way. I couldn’t have made it this far with Him.

All this time, I have blogged from behind a mask. Oh, I told myself that I was blogging from behind a mask because of the need for internet safety. I blogged from behind a mask to protect my children from the bad guys who might seek to find where I live, and harm them. The truth is that I blogged from behind a mask because I was not comfortable with letting anyone see who I really am. So, I chose a very good looking mask, Cary Grant, and wore it in the blog world. Everyone enjoyed it.

Yesterday, that mask came off.

For the time being I am going to honor my wife’s request and use the black and white navy photo that ended yesterday’s blog. I won’t use it for long. I’m not a 23 year old kid standing on the battleship Missouri (yes, that is where that picture was taken) posing for an award photo. There’s an amusing story behind that photo that I will have to write one day. Major Havoc has been Jonsing me for a chance to take my picture for weeks. He wants his own camera. I am going to let him take my picture. One of the pictures that he takes should be good enough to accurately show the face of the 44-year-old man who writes this blog.

I learned an enormous lesson last month. It wasn’t an abstract lesson or a theoretical lesson. It was a concrete, real world lesson, one that I started to understand when my daughter was in the hospital and I felt like one of the apostles on the boat in the middle of the storm, staring at the sleeping Jesus in disbelief. The lesson is simple.

I learned to trust God.

I took off a mask that I wore for 35 years and revealed one of the most damaging events of my life. I decided to finally trust that God would protect me from harm and go ahead and tell people who I am. I took that leap of faith and God did not let me down. I cannot describe how refreshing the air is when you take off the mask. Freedom is incredible.

The Bible is filled with stories of people who were told by God to do something. Some did as they were told. Some didn’t. There were rewards and consequences for each choice. I trusted that God would protect me and I was rewarded with an outpouring of love and support from readers of this blog that has been nothing short of astounding. For that I am grateful to each and every one of you for the manner in which you responded to three October blogs that were probably very difficult to read. They were difficult to write, too.

You were amazing.

Along the way I’ve learned something that truly surprised me. I’ve learned the enormity of, “Me, too.” I will not tell you how many people contacted me privately to tell me that they have an event in their past that is similar to mine. A few are regular readers and many of them are not. The number is quite large. Most of them do not have the court story to go with it. Justice, at least here on earth, was not served. In my community, I have met people who saw a book that I was reading, asked, “What’s that?” and entered a conversation where they exhibited genuine Grace and understanding from personal experience.

This experience has helped me to clearly see how widespread the problem of physical and sexual abuse is, and how many people are looking for help. I found mine through a long and painful process of meeting God and understanding what He can do for me. It was an active effort over the course of many years. It challenged me to re-evaluate who I am, what I believe in, and how I behave. It gave me practical scriptural knowledge (it still does!) and a sense of direction. He’s been waiting for me to get to this point in my life for a long time. I finally caught up.

For weeks now I have needed to write this post and say one thing to each and every one of you who reads this blog.

Thank you.


Kellie said...

Beautiful post, Arby!

Oklahoma Granny said...

I've visited several blogs over the past several months. Some I don't return to, some I've added to my favorites list. I've read your blog for many months now. Because of posts like this one I am passing along a "Heartfelt Award" to you. Please see my blog today

and have a blessed day.

CrossView said...

Yay for Arby! There is something so freeing in letting go of the mask. Skeery, too....

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful post, Arby!

As I recall, though, you have hidden behind other masks like Wilson. :)

I'm happy for you that you are learning to trust God. I am still in process...

Kathleen said...

Oh, and does "beached whale" bring anything to mind? ;)

Arby said...

Kathleen, your memory is frighteningly accurate!

Linda said...

Thank you Arby, for trusting us. My little world is a better place since I started reading your blog, and your comments on mine.

Michelle said...

Blessings Arby to you and your family! Those posts in October were a reminder to all of us, the bad people that are in this world. We should be reminded daily so that we can rise up and defeat this evil. God works in wonderful and mysterious ways-he has brought all of us together in this blogging world to share our pains and triumphs. I feel as those my blogging friends are real friends and I'm always available to lend a hand to support, cry, or lift up, even if we are miles away.
God Bless!

Teacher Mommy said...

Thank YOU, Arby. You have been an inspiration to me in multiple areas, and this is one of them. I am very, very glad that I have gotten to know you, however virtually, through our blogs and emails.

Taking off masks is a Very Good Thing.

Besides, I already told you my opinion of those photos. ;P

silvermine said...

Taking off the mask is one of the bravest things a person can do, IMHO. It's hard to bare your soul and show people what's in there and risk judgement.

It's certainly something I haven't managed to do yet.

The_Kid said...

The only thing I have to say about it is that potential employers search all the online stuff to try and get a bead on a current/future employee. Though, I have never seen anything written here that would make that a problem.

Whatever works for you Arby.

It is a brave thing to do.

(humor section) I can't imagine doing it myself. I've just managed to get the number of chicks hitting on me to a reasonable level. And guys. It's quite a bother actually.

Eat, Fart and Bark said...

Your helping us all to grow Arby. Thanks for being a wonderful friend. You, the Boss, and the three Rugrats are special to us.

Arby said...

Kid, if I have to go back into the workforce, I'll have much bigger problems.

TobyBo said...

Arby, you are a huge blessing in my life.

Arby said...

Kid, what I should have written was, you missed the part about trusting God.

Anonymous said...

After reading the book you recommended, I too feel compelled to be more "me". I'm tired of the mask.

Thank YOU