In the cover up I put on my ‘good girl’ mask, trying to lead others to believe that before I married Tim I was an honorable bride to be. Behind the mask my conscience was telling me I was not. This is a very difficult episode of my life to remember, because confessing the truth exposes the real me- a sinner. But, it’s God in the details that matters most. While I was leading others to believe I was ‘good,’ He was leading me to Him.
The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word used for the masks worn in a drama. Each mask has a stick attached to it. An actor can hold the stick and put a mask in front of their face. One actor can play multiple roles by switching masks. I was an actress and the world my audience. Looking good on the outside was my specialty. The mask I wore put me in the role of the ‘good girl.’ This is how I lived my life.
I met Tim on New Year’s Eve at the Air Force barracks. What’s a good-girl doing in a place like that? (That’s a whole different story) Soon after, he asked me out. A few weeks and a couple dates later, he said he loved me. I knew that I wanted to be with him all the time. By February he suggested that we live together. I was agreeable. At a donut shop, with pen and napkin, we sat for hours calculating our finances. Well, it didn’t take that long; we didn’t have that many finances! I worked at Kmart, was going to college and living with a family that was helping me out. He was in the Air Force, living on the base in the barracks. We decided that we would rent a place and live together off-base. This way, he could get supplemental housing money. If the rent amounted less than the allotment, we would have extra cash. It looked possible. It didn’t take long that I found a house for rent. It was not in the best part of town, but in our price range- cheap. Tim and I went to see it. The very nice elderly couple wanted to know if we planned on getting married. We lied and said ‘yes.’ Up to this point I had every intention of moving in with this man that I had just recently met, with no thoughts that it was wrong. But, soon something would start to stir in me.
In 1984, my moral guide was the sign of the times; couples lived together- no big deal. Except one thing, somehow I knew deep in my heart that it was wrong that I should not move in and live with Tim. One evening I drove to the house, parked just down the road and stared at it. Tim and I had made a commitment to rent it. Soon we would be living there together! My heart and stomach churned. I stared at the house wondering what to do. Down the dirt road in the opposite direction was a phone booth. Yes, a phone booth; a big glass box with a telephone in it. Clark Kent used them to change into Superman. I wish I could say I changed into Supergirl. No, I turned into sobbing-confused girl. I called a friend, crying to her that I could not go through with it. She stayed calm and listened to my hysterical outburst.
The great proposal- Do you know that the church is the bride of Christ? It’s in the Bible. This may seem awkward to you as I thought it was when I first learned of it. Yet, God is the creator of everything including marriage. Like Him it is good. The symbolism of Christ as the groom and the church (His body of believers) as His bride is a beautiful picture of God’s commitment and love. A bride wears white representing purity. The groom is pleased with this. God’s standards are perfect. So how can we even think that we could be a pure and clean church/people for a perfect God? God, Himself has provided the way. The great proposal is God knocking on the door of our hearts, inviting each and every one of us to be a part of His people and to have eternal life with Him. Believing and accepting that He provided the Way is saying, “Yes.” The awesome thing is that deep inside every person God has placed a desire to seek Him, know Him and to please Him. This was no different for me. Though I was slow to recognize it. Marriage between a man and woman is beautiful relationship of commitment to each other. At 22, I had plans to live with a man without being married and having an inner struggle with it. In that phone booth, I was bawling my eyes and heart out because for ‘some reason’ I could not go through with it. My friend told me that I had to tell Tim the truth. But, we had already made an agreement. How could I back out now?
The proposal; you’ve seen it the movies. The man is on one knee, flowers in one hand, ring in the other, he lovingly looks at his girlfriend and says, “I can’t live without you. Will you marry me?” Hearts melt, tears well up in eyes, sighs reverberate across the audience as she says, “Yes, I will.” This was nothing like that. It went like this- I told Tim that after planning, after finding the house, after paying the first month’s rent- I could not go through with it. I could not live with him. It was the first time I had seen him angry. After hours with bouts of arguing, silence and crying (mine) it came to the ultimatum. It gets fuzzy here because I am not sure which one of us said the ‘marriage’ word. I am sure that my own pride shadows the memory because I don’t want to believe that I said I would not move in with him unless we were going to get married. There I actually said it. That was the proposal. Not a proposal, but a truce between us so we could live in the same house. Somehow, even after seeing my emotional flip he agreed. I haven’t ever really told the whole story to my daughters because of embarrassment. Tim will tease that I strong-armed him into getting married, which is a painful memory for me. What woman does not want a man to ask for her hand in marriage? What woman does not want to be pursued by one who loves her totally and completely, no matter what? What person does not want a relationship with another like that? Little did I know that someone else was pursuing me like this.
Together we went to see the house one more time. We told Mr. and Mrs. Johnson that Tim would move in mid-March and that I would move in after our wedding on May 5th. They, who did not know us very well, were very happy. I got to keep my ‘good girl’ mask on. I look back and think how my conscience was prodding me and now know that it was God’s own pursuit of my heart, mind and soul and that He was guiding me to desire His Way, but I did not acknowledge it. For the weeks prior to our wedding day I would go to visit and stay with Tim. I was wearing my ‘good girl’ mask, trying to keep up appearances of ‘not moving in with a man,’ yet doing what I wanted to do. Only God knows the motives of my heart or if I even really fooled anyone as I tried to be sneaky and not let anyone know what I was doing.
Our wedding was approaching so quickly that I decided to do in-person rather than written invitations. We went to my grandmother’s and told her the good news. She congratulated us and commented on how we barely knew each other as most everyone did. I then felt compelled to add that we were not getting married because I was pregnant (good-girl mask). She laughed and said, “Oh, Mija, time will tell that, time will tell!” I think of the words- ‘time will tell.’ If I could be so bold as to translate what she said, even though it was mostly in English. She said, “My daughter, you can’t fool anyone because the truth will come out sooner or later.” Even up to the minute of this writing I don’t think anyone knew of my plans to move in with Tim before marrying him. I did not tell anyone. And I definitely did not tell anyone that I went to his home before we wed. As Grandma said, “Time will tell.” I did not hide behind a mask and sneak around for no reason; deep down I knew I was doing something wrong. We can try to cover our faces and our sins with masks but eventually everyone and everything will be uncovered. My ‘good girl’ mask was how I justified the way I lived my life, with out regards to God’s right way of living.
The vision of a bride walking down the aisle in a pure white dress is beautiful. Everyone knows what the white represents. No one can deny that many a bride has worn white with out deserving it, including myself. When Christ returns –it will be for His pure bride/church. God’s standard is perfection and we are not perfect so of course we don’t deserve to be a part of it. But the Good News is that God provided a Way for us. He demonstrates His love and pursuit for us through His son, Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NIV) Let me attempt to translate this – even though it’s in English. God sees all of our sins and faults behind all of the masks and still loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins, by dying on a cross. If you accept Christ as your personal savior, you will be saved from those sins and you will have eternal life with God and be a part of his church/bride. God’s pursuit and great proposal is for all.
I thank God for my marriage to Tim for over 28 years. I thank God who relentlessly pursues our hearts throughout our lives. I thank God for opening my eyes to my sins and showing me that He saved me from those sins. I am trying to live life without masks. I know God is guiding me and try to heed to His guidance. When the day comes that everything is uncovered, I will still be relying on Jesus not my masks to save me. I can be presented as a part of His pure church bride because of Him. I hope you look to Jesus to save you from your sins, because He already has, you just need to acknowledge it.
References: Luke12:2, John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25-27, 2 Peter 3:9, Revelation 3:20 and 21:2 (NIV)