Mask or Marrow?

I have just returned from a trip to South Carolina.  It was a "Girls' Getaway" weekend! Oh, how I needed it and loved my time there.  One of my closest friends moved there this past summer.  So another friend and I went down to see her new "digs" and soak up some quality true friend time.   We laughed a ton, listened to and encouraged each other, shopped, visited Charleston, rode a historical tour carriage ride, worshiped together at their new church and sat quietly together at times.  It was perfect.   

There are rare few people (outside of close family) who I feel close enough to and comfortable enough with to spend a whole day with sans makeup, in know... raw.  I can with these two women.  I don't have to put on that facade that I do other days.  I don't have to be worried about what I look like.  I don't have to be concerned about what they think.   They know me at my core.  They know (and like) what makes me tick, what nourishes me, what is at the center of who I am.  

So, mask or marrow?  That is the question has been rumbling around in my head for the past week.  Do people know me by my mask or my marrow?   That mask is a facade.  It does serve a purpose and is much easier to look at.  It provides me with a shield of sorts. It also can enduce pride.  I want to be proud of how I look.  Two decades of being obese allowed me to be lacking in self pride and become very good at using a mask to protect myself.  I rarely was without makeup and dressing trendy and stylish (as much as I could with the clothes available for plus size women!).  

I "dolled up" the outside.......the exterior........the facade.


But what about the inside...the interior....the marrow.  Bone marrow is such a fascinating, amazing thing.  The marrow inside a bone is so rich.  It is a flexible tissue in the hollow most part of the bone that is the center of stem cell production.  One of the definitions of marrow is "the inmost or essential part".  Such extraordinary growth and nourishment comes from the marrow.  

Back to Charleston.......

As we sat, bundled up under a thick red blanket on our carriage tour ride of Charleston the idea of mask vs. marrow was the glasses that I viewed things with that day.  The architecture of Charleston is beautiful.  Streets are lined with amazing stately homes.  Each one is different from the next.  They are adorned with beautiful shutters, iron railings and balconies, and architectual details.  Some are painted, some have a flattened stucco like texture on them and some have gorgeous brick.  They are magnificent.

But as we rode past these homes I noticed that if you looked right around the corner of them you would see a different look.  The sides of the homes didn't look like the front facade.  Many times it was a different material, or unpainted, and in some cases dirty.  You can see in these photos that I took the conflicting aesthetics of the buildings.

This house was stunning.  The front was immaculate and full of beautiful details.  

But the sides were just a normal brick, no shutters, no ornate balconies....simple.

These two buildings were paintly crisply on the front and made a statement.

But the sides of them were molding and uncared for. 


This is a building on the famous Rainbow Row.  

It has been freshened up with lovely pale turquoise paint.

But if you look closely the sides of the building are mismatching brick and dirty.

We were nearing the end of our tour when we came upon this next house.....

The tour guide pointed out to us that if we looked back at the length of the house we would see what was typical of the homes that were built back then.  This was a home built by a man and his wife for themselves and their 2 teenage daughters at the time...and their 18 slaves.  You can see a large main home with the beautiful front, large windows and made of strong brick and 4 people lived their life there.  Then behind that is the mid-sized portion of the building which we were told had the kitchen and work areas.  It had fewer windows and was dirty on the outside.  Then, immediately after that came the smallest portion of the home...... the cramped slave's quarters for 18 people.  It has very small windows and was wrought with crumbling brick.

Seeing this and hearing this felt like a kick in the gut.  Why in the world did we ever treat other human beings like this?  Why would anyone make people live in lesser conditions than they were living in just 100 feet away?  But as I thought about this more the "mask vs marrow" theme crept into my thoughts.  The front of that house paints a specific picture to those looking from the outside.  Then as you walk through the house, through many rooms I am sure you would finally come to what was the heart of that home.  In the back was where all the work was done.....all the nourishment....all the endurance and perseverance.  The back room of that home was the marrow.  It was rich with nutrients.  It was the cell production unit.  It was free from image.  It was raw.


I am grateful for the people in my life who I can show my marrow to.

I need to feel free to show it to more people.

I have a long way to go with taking my mask down.

I will challenge myself to try to see beyond the mask of others.

I realize that my core is where God is my servant heart.


May you recognize the difference between your mask and your marrow.

May you look beyond others' masks to discover their marrow.

May you allow others to get to your core. 

May you learn to love your marrow and shed your mask.



January 08, 2012 — Sarah Stevens

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