Intimacy and the Mask


"Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” ― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces


"Until We Have Faces" is one of my favorite albums from a group of Christian musicians that call themselves "Red".  They shared that the album was based loosely on some reading from the C.S. Lewis book "Till We Have Faces", the last novel he published in 1956, a retelling of an old myth of Cupid and Psyche.  I won't give you the book review, you can read it yourself, but one of the quotes from that book was a name sake for Red's album, and it's a lesson in "intimacy" for me, something that has caused me to be in God's Word in a new way.

When we were younger and in our teens, we come to recognize it as a time of life when it is easier to go with the flow and to belong with a group, sometimes ANY group of people, just so long as we're not the outcast.  We'll sometimes go along with things we know aren't great, but it's worth it so as to have "our people".  Life as a teenager is defined by a Chameleon identity, one that can shift and change to fit the circumstances.  We long to belong and to be known, but we're trying to understand who we are, what we like, what we're good at.

As we become young adults, and at 18-25, that is what we are, young people moving from adolescent living and thinking to adult living and thinking, the search for identity is intense and it is often driven by a desire for intimacy.  To be known, truly known by other people and to truthfully know others.  Physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy are important for human beings and without it, our interactions with other people are hollow, shallow and unfulfilling.

This is why this quote is so powerful to me, for two reasons.  Person to person, intimacy requires me to be honest with myself about who I am, my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, beauty and ugliness.  In order for me to have intimacy with another person, I have to be willing to take off the mask and have the courage to be vulnerable.  It's only then that we can have a chance at the depth of relationship that all of us really want.  Secondly, it makes me think about my relationship with God, with Jesus.  The Bible talks about the growth that God is desiring for people who call themselves Christians.  It's not just about "getting to heaven", but it's about a deepening relationship with the one who made you and loves you, cheers for you and died for you.  God desires intimacy with us, with you, with me.  He has shown us his face, but all too often, we refuse to show him ours.

"How can we meet them face to face, until we have faces?"  I love that quote and the implications it has for us as Christians.  It's what "confession" is all about.  We take off our mask, we acknowledge the good things that we have are gifts, not rights.  We confess our failings and our utter need for help.  We speak plainly, openly, passionately, emotionally, because God is our Father, he's shown his face to us and it is not one of wrath, he showed that face to his son Jesus.  Instead, by grace through faith, we take off the mask of "self", and we assume the face of a child, speaking to and answered by our heavenly Father.

The beginning of true intimacy with people around you, derives it's strength and power from the intimacy that you have with Jesus.  And this is a process and takes time, your lifetime.  But the reality is that, the more we get to know ourselves, be honest about who we are in Christ, the easier it is to spend time with God in his word and the more deeply you appreciate, sense, feel that word running through you and in your life.  God is eager to give you your deepest most rewarding relationship - the one he gives you himself.  My prayer is for you, and for me, to meet with Jesus face to face.