About the Author

Author Jennifer Dukes Lee and her husband live on the family farm, raising crops, pigs, and two humans. She’s a fan of dark chocolate, emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way that you can’t help but want more of Jesus.

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  1. Jennifer,
    I love the lines…”our flaws make us approachable” and “That underneath your mask isn’t your mess; it’s your marvelous.” Good stuff! Like you, I had an awakening at a high school reunion (I am now 53) when a classmate came up to me and said that she was jealous of me because I seemed so “perfect”. Me?? Perfect?? The girl who felt so insecure inside came across as perfect. How ironic!! The more we hold up masks the more unapproachable we make ourselves. I’m pleased to say that I have dropped most of my masks as I have matured and I revel in the relationships that have been born because now I am honest and real. Thank you for the affirmation of being the real me!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I strongly believe that it’s our duty, as former mask-wearers, to help make safe places for others to wear their masks. We are uniquely positions to encourage people to “be real,” because we know the perils of false faces.

      As a collective community of believers, we could do a better job of bringing actual grace with our “be real” mantra. We tell each other that it’s safe to be authentic, but are we making nonthreatening places for people to be less than perfect?

      I talked with an 85-year-old woman who still feels the pressure to spit-shine her whole house before guests come over because of the high expectations that some of the older women had put on her, in the 1960s and 1970s, to have a well-maintained house before hosting Ladies’ Aid! And all these years later, those expectations “stuck.” She’s afraid to drop the mask. And she’s 85!

      The other day, she told me that she finally left dirty dishes in the sink before leaving the house. A victory! 🙂 … But what if we, the former mask-wearers, created safe havens where masks were shattered and “imperfections” weren’t just tolerated, but celebrated as the evidence of Actual Life.

      I’m on a soap box here. As you can see. 🙂

      So glad to have you here in the comments, Bev. Here’s to mask-free living!

  2. It is so hard though when you take off those masks and then are rejected for it. I had a woman in my life who mentored me for quite awhile and suddenly just stopped talking to me. This is a woman who knows so much about me and one that I have shared so much of my heart with. Honestly, it has been so hurtful and now my tendency has been to not let people see my hurts or struggles for fear that they will walk away as well.

    • Elizabeth! Yes, YES! That’s it right there. I was just saying in the previous comment the same thing, so I’m going to cut and paste here:

      We need to make safe places for others to wear their masks.

      “As a collective community of believers, we could do a better job of bringing actual grace with our “be real” mantra. We tell each other that it’s safe to be authentic, but are we making nonthreatening places for people to be less than perfect?

      I talked with an 85-year-old woman who still feels the pressure to spit-shine her whole house before guests come over because of the high expectations that some of the older women had put on her, in the 1960s and 1970s, to have a well-maintained house before hosting Ladies’ Aid! And all these years later, those expectations “stuck.” She’s afraid to drop the mask. And she’s 85!

      The other day, she told me that she finally left dirty dishes in the sink before leaving the house. A victory! 🙂 … But what if we, the former mask-wearers, created safe havens where masks were shattered and “imperfections” weren’t just tolerated, but celebrated as the evidence of Actual Life.”

      Elizabeth, I so get this. It can be hard to be real because sometimes? People don’t want to see it. It can be painful to let down the facade in Christian circles. I wonder how often we leave women with the impression that they ought to get their act together and keep it that way. Are we, as a collective community, ready for people’s “real”? What if their real is ugly? What if their real is chronic? What if their “real” can’t stop crying for days or weeks?

      I think that if we say “be real,” we have to back it up with actual grace in action.

      I hurt with you, Elizabeth. I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you, girl.

    • Elizabeth, I so relate to what you shared here. A family friend helped my daughter and I out as I was struggling with depression, but in the process, she threw away a lot of my art, read all of my journals, told me to stop writing about my feelings in my journals, shamed me into shaping up, etc. etc., basically handed me a very big mask. It turned out that the underlying cause of my depression was a Vitamin D Deficiency, not my journal writing or creativity. I became so codependently intwined with this woman and now I’m trying to break free. I’m so grateful that I am in a recovery program – Celebrate Recovery, where I can experience hope and healing and know that I am loved despite my flaws. Still, I have this fear that now that she knows everything about me, that if I set boundaries in the relationship (she wants to be in control, the rescuer), she will retaliate and share things that were never intented for her eyes.

  3. Beautiful post, Jennifer! It is so true – our flaws are what make us approachable. We put on our mask, covering the very us God means to be seen. So grateful to have read your book. May we live mask-free all the remaining days of our lives!

    • Thank you, Joanne. I’m so glad that the book’s message touched your heart. I am in recovery from so many things: approval seeking, perfectionism, mask-wearing. Thanks for taking the recovery journey with me. 🙂

  4. It’s not easy, but I’m reminding myself of this every day. Moment by moment, if I have to. I so desperately want the authentic connection that comes from being real. I’m thankful today for the brave few who aren’t afraid to go first, who are dropping their masks, and inspiring us all!

  5. I receive so many graces, through your words. That is The Holy Spirit, working through you.
    Thank you.

  6. I love this.
    When we smash our masks together at the feet of Jesus….
    This has encouraged me to push through in my desire to be myself. Masks hurt. They hurt the wearer and those who we hide from behind them.
    God has made us, allowed life to shape us into approachable, authentic vessels of His love and grace.
    So grateful for this post.
    Embracing the marvelous

    • Caroline,

      Have you read Emily Freeman’s book, “Grace for the Good Girl”? She has this really effective opening story (I think in the intro or chapter one … it’s been a while since I’ve read it) about how hot and uncomfortable it is under a mask, and tells a story of being a kid wearing one of those plastic masks with the string around the back of her head. Remember those? Remember how uncomfortable those were?

      And then there’s this unforgettable quote in the book: “The best part of hiding is being found.”

      Masks off.
      Marvelous revealed.
      Yeah. Being found is a pretty sweet place to be.

      Grateful for your words here, Caroline. God bless!

  7. The older I get and the more I know of God, the less urge I have to wear a mask!

    About brownies….follow the mixing directions on the box. Put them in a lightly greased glass 9×13 and bake for 28 minutes. Perfect brownies every time! 🙂

    • I’ll give it a whirl, Karen. You’d be surprised at how effectively I can ruin brownies from a box. No lie. I have decided that I’m not above making use of a bakery. 🙂

  8. Thank you for this. It was just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  9. It’s sure is alot lighter and less cumbersome without those heavy veils over hearts and faces. We breathe alot easier. We smile more because we know we are free indeed …

  10. I’ve been told it’s easier to please God then people and I think it’s true for a reason. If we are truly trying to please God and be obedient there’s no need for masks and if we do that, we will have the peace and strength to be out in the world without masks! Ideally that’s how I see it !

    • The difference is grace, perfected through Christ. Our humanity expects perfection out of ourselves and one another. But God says, “You were never able to achieve this on your own. So I came up with a solution: the cross.”

      It’s astounding, this love and grace. Bowled over by the goodness of God, and the example of Christ, and His call to pick up our cross and follow Him.

  11. Jennifer, dear Jennifer, the thing that saddens me most is how we struggle to see ourselves they way we already are. You and I are already perfectly put together by Him, and yet we like Eve say that who He has made us is not enough. How dissappointing it must be for the Creator to see the created despise who He has made them to be.

  12. I’ve been on a mission to remove my masks and help others feel safe to remove theirs too. I came close to ending it all because of the rejection I felt when I tried to show the world the real me. I have since found Celebrate Recovery where I feel safe to share my weaknesses. I’m gaining the courage to share with the rest of the world now too. Thanks for this…so powerful.

    • Oh Christina … wishing that I could reach through the screen, and stand with you shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity. So I stand with you “virtually.” 🙂 I thank God for the good work He has done and continues to do for many of my friends and acquaintances who have experienced His grace & faithfulness through Celebrate Recovery.

  13. Jennifer, this post (and your book) bring to mind Paul’s encouragement (or was it Timothy???) who continually said, “Remember, remind each other, don’t forget.” It doesn’t matter how many times we hear this message, the oftener the better, “I didn’t ask you to be her. I asked you to be you.”
    God wants us each to be uniquely ourselves to give what only we can give, and to ultimately realize the Person whose praise we truly long for is our Heavenly Father’s.

    Thank you for YOUR voice.

    • I would suggest that comparing oneself to another self is at the root of much of this. Hence, God’s repeated refrain in our souls: “I didn’t ask you to be her. I asked you to be you.”

      When I get to Heaven, God’s not going to say to me, “Thank you, Jennifer, for doing such a great job at being Jody Lee Collins during your time on earth.” I’m pretty sure He’d rather say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Thank you for being the woman I called you to be.” And vice versa.

      Grateful for you.

  14. Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for this post. I’ve always been an anxious person, trying to do and be what I thought other people wanted me to do and be. It’s so wearying! I’m finally learning to turn to God for my identity.

  15. I love you so! Those pesky masks… there is freedom in letting them go, letting them fall and smash to the ground! But they are oh so sneaky too and we can be holding them up again without even noticing! But why hide behind a mask, when He has made us on purpose, with purpose; when He has made us, as you said, marvelous?

  16. Jennifer, this is such beautiful encouragement for my heart. I’ve hidden myself behind masks for years. I am learning to allow myself to take them off, as I rest in the safety and securing of God’s embrace.

  17. I love how you are cheering woman on….cheering them to freedom…I love that you and others are getting this younger…and I am so thankful God never tires of wooing us to freedom in His love…no matter how old we are…for me…it’s the best part of aging…I find it easier to let go of those masks!!!! I love your heart… And how you are opening doors for woman to walk through!!!

  18. Jennifer, here’s to throwing down our masks at the feet of Jesus and living marvelously!!! Woop woop! Now, if I can just really do it!!
    Wearing masks are getting to be too much. It’s like putting on someone that you are not. That is such a heavy unnecessary weight. The sad truth is, I even do that at church. Sad isn’t it?? I know that God called me to be…..me. The “me” that He has a plan for. If I keep wearing masks, then I will miss out on the plan He has for me. I have a desire to be liked, approved of and a part of. Sometimes it can be bigger than my desire for God. I never really knew that until now. I want my heart’s desire to be more like Jesus, not so-and-so. I want to live marvelously in what appears to be a mess! I pray for the courage to throwing down my masks………. Thank you for such inspiring words!

  19. I have lived most of my life trying to be who everyone wanted me to be(including those closest to me ), or on what I perceived they wanted me to be. Kept all my struggles to myself behind a smile! Now at 60 years old, and facing moving w/husband away from friends & home of 20 years, I realize I have wasted so much of my life, rather than walking in the light and being real…. I know God will forgive me of this, however have been overcome by great anxiety at how to work through “being real” before this move happens. Afraid of being without support and alone…. Trying to leave at cross and focus on trusting…..

  20. Good stuff! I really needed this today as I realized that I printed and sent out 70 shower invitation for a friend with the wrong date. While I still hate to make mistakes and I struggle to put down the perfection mask, I am learning to offer grace to one whom I often judge the least deserving…me.

  21. Jennifer, you’ve done it again. The Spirit seems to whisper the answers to my prayers through your honest heart and into your words. Thank you for these. I’ve been the one people are afraid to befriend, never knowing it wasn’t my perfection that would win people to Jesus. Grateful for glimpses of my frailty and, like you said, the do-over I have today, right now. Thank you for these timely words.

  22. Jennifer, I too have spent my life wearing the mask of perfection. Trying to “act” and “look” like I have it all together. I’ve kept people at a distance for fear of getting hurt. But I finally said yes to Jesus and allowed HIM to work on taking off my masks. It’s been a slow process but I have found so much love, safety and security in His loving embrace that the masks are peeling away. Thank you for your very open and honest post!

  23. I had a similar experience to you with a high school friend. We had our 35th reunion a few years ago. I said the thing I remember feeling the most in high school was feeling like the invisible girl. She said to me – what are you talking about – everyone wanted to be you! With your long legs and your clear skin. You were like a model. Totally NOT who I felt like – filled with the insecurities I carried with me from the first day of Kindergarten when the first child that spoke to me said – You don’t belong in Kindergarten. you’re too big and too fat – you need to go to first grade. I never felt like I fit in and I ended up with body dysmorphic disorder which began way back that day at 5 years old. I never thought I belonged. I thank God that today I am no longer invisible or misfitting. In Jesus we all belong!

  24. Great reminders here to be who God created me to be and live in that freedom. I have worn masks to be sure but have dropped many as they are so tiring and heavy. It’s interesting when you take off a mask that those close to you are so used to seeing that they try to put it back on you. I need to be sure that when someone in my world lets down their mask that they are loved and accepted by me.

  25. My mask was shyness. I didn’t talk to anyone much in high school. I was to shy due to hearing loss and speech impediment. For many years I made a few friends and kept to myself mostly.

    Over the years God opened me up and made me realize that it was ok to tell the world about my hearing loss–I believe it got a little better. Now I boldly get up in front of my little church and do sign language to music. I find it ok to open up to people about who I truly am and who God made me to be. I no longer wear masks.

    We, as Christians, need to be more friendly and open. We must make the effort to allow people to bear their imperfections and give them grace!

    Blessings 🙂

  26. I don’t know why this reminded me of the recent nomination that went around Facebook, daring nominees to put up a picture of themselves without makeup. So many women were “sick” so it would have to wait, while others apologized for their looks and when I was inevitably nominated I simply said “my profile picture doesn’t have any makeup except chapstick, I don’t wear it more than once or twice a year” After that I didn’t see anymore nominations going on among the ladies on my friends list, perhaps they had already gone, or realized they had nothing to hide. I am the single mom and daughter who had my kids in horrible conditions as a teen. I can be found in a dress and flipflops or knee high boots with a 3 inch heel. I am not afraid to toss dirty hair into a pony and throw on sweats or pj pants to go shopping one day and the next be showered and dressed nicely. I don’t care what people say about me and I refuse to wear a mask and be someone I am not. I realized this years ago when I saw Spanx on The Shopping Channel. I thought to myself “why go out having a perfect looking body and always look great when you could meet the one God has created for you and realizes you don’t even look the same once the Spanx and makeup come off?” So I decided to be me and create relationships based on the good, bad and ugly. My last first date I ended up being sick and the guy ended up spending the evening holding my hair from this bug that had hit me hard and fast. I kept telling him he could go but he stayed to make sure I was okay. If I had worn a mask I never would have experienced his tender care or the friendship that came from it. I am happy when my twelve year old goes to town with her hair messy and in pj pants because she isn’t hiding who she is either. So the masks come off and should be shattered and destroyed. Thank you SOOO much for this reminder, especially for those of us who are raising our own kids, especially girls.

  27. Ya, I wish I wasn’t as familiar with masks as I am. I have had drawers full of ’em, for sure.

    “I can’t go back and erase my masks, and I won’t wallow in guilt for my past mistakes. Because I can start again today, refusing the false face. And I can do the same thing tomorrow.”

    Yes and amen to fresh starts and refusing the false face. This is needed and valuable soul strength right here, Jennifer. I sure love you.

    xoxo,
    K

  28. Thank you, Jennifer, for inspiring us to live mask-free, and for giving us concise, clear marching orders: “I can make safe zones for others to be the best versions of themselves. I can teach my daughters to live mask-free—mostly (I hope) by modeling that behavior.”

    To that last statement I can add my granddaughters. With God’s help, may I be focused on who I am becoming the inside, not outward appearances. And may I be honest and genuine about my progress, because “flaws make us approachable, that make us real, that make us friends.”

    My heart is filled with hope and expectancy at the ripple effect of a “mask-off” lifestyle!

  29. I like my masks. I don’t want to take them off. The thing is though that as I stretch and grow in Christ the masks don’t fit anymore, they’re uncomfortable and must be thrown away. He changes me. If we all removed our masks we see the truth:”Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

  30. This is such a wonderfully encouraging post! I’m sharing it with the women that I lead in Bible study right now! Thank you for writing 🙂

  31. What I’m wondering, weary, is when will the other women in my life let down their masks? I’ve blazed and blazed and blazed that trail and I’m ready for that nap by the bush in the desert with angels bringing me food, like Elijah. Friends (?) embrace me, grateful that I’m Real, but like the Velveteen Rabbit, all my fur has been rubbed off and I don’t have anything to show for it but bald patches. Waiting, now, worn out and not sure what comes next ….

  32. Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for this reminder. Not too long ago I felt like I was two different people. I felt fake on the outside and real on the inside. With help and encouragement from my husband, I’m no longer fake or as you said wearing a mask. Thank you for these words, they have truly encouraged me to continue to be real and not wear any masks.

  33. Thank you so much for your honesty. I think that in our prideful, human state, most of us wear at least one mask, if not many. The freedom comes only when we cast them aside and try to wear the light of Christ instead. Thank you for sharing the reminder that when we project perfectionism, we alienate. It is only by God’s grace that we bear any fruit. Thank you for the reminder that His grace is enough. We need to embrace it in ourselves and allow it to impact the way we see others. Great post!

  34. I’m so thankful for God’s patience as we grow toward maturity. And it seems blogging has opened the opportunity to remove our masks. Perhaps we feel safer behind the screen and that has given room for grace and freedom to grow. Gently baring our souls…

    (I am grateful that masking grey hair is not forbidden…) 🙂

    And thankful for you Jennifer. I love your voice, your mission and our Loving Liberator, Jesus.