makeup Well trained from the moment I could scramble my chubby legs up the bathroom sink to peer into the mirror overhead, my mother schooled, “a woman never leaves the house without her face on.”

At four-years-old, this seemed like such a strange concept. Did she peel it off at night only to glue it back on in the morning? So, Being the eternal snoop, I became determined to find out.

Spying on her every move throughout the day, her beauty captivated me. Unlike the other mommies who wore their hair in pink sponge curlers and a stained, frumpy house coat, my mom was stunning with her flaming auburn hair, tinges of gold weaving through the curls, sparkling ocean blue eyes, and lush cherry lips. Then one day I caught her – au natural.

“Yikes! Where did my pretty mommy go?” I wanted to cry. The vision before me was a dark, hollowed eyed, frizzed haired replica of the Bride of Frankenstein. No wonder she needed her face on.

But that moment of fear went deeper than worrying she’d become some pod creature from a black and white horror film. My internal unraveling ignited from the terror that one day I’d look just like that.

And, so began a lifetime of fascination with my artistic application of war paint. Minimal in my teens, but thicker layers added as time went by. Other than the dog and the unlucky few, no one has seen the real me in years, until recently.

“Jackie, I challenge you to go one day without any make-up,” my precious friend, Libby Ackley, dared.

Libby wasn’t pretending to be one of those mean girls in my youth who wanted a good laugh at my expense. Together we were on a journey to discover our inner relationship with our Creator this past Lent.

“Think how Christ suffered for us. Maybe we should try to repay the favor by doing something out of our comfort zones for him.”

At first, I thought how silly. If I were him, I’d prefer it if I kept the stuff on, but never saying no to a dare, I took the challenge.

One morning, after scrubbing my face clean, I stood before the 10 X magnifying mirror where I created my daily transformation. Staring at the bare image, I was horrified to see how my skin had aged from just the day before. It didn’t seem fair that it took centuries for crevices to leave their mark on the Grand Canyon and mine overnight.

Knowing this contest would mean nothing if I stayed indoors all day, I ventured out. The true test to my comfortableness would be viewing the reaction of the general public.

Initially, I found myself looking at the floor as shoppers passed by in the grocery store. Gradually, I lifted my face until I was finally at eye level and proceeded to act as if all was right with the world. I smiled at passerbys, despite my mounting insecurity.

What I discovered that day was that nobody cared. No one ran away, and faces smiled back just like they always did at a welcoming gesture.

I’ll forever be grateful to Libby for this experiment in sacrifice. This is not to say I’m going to stop exploring new colors on my eyes and lips. I am an artist and my face just another canvas to create upon, but it’s another reminder that when we embrace our basic divine nature in its complete and perfect form, without all the bells as the whistles, we find a sense of freedom that is able to break through our own rigid, mental limitations.

Allowing this feeling of peace to permeate our beings, we can then explode in color, just as spring does after a quiet winter of self-reflection; only this time it will come from a place of creativity and not due to self-limiting beliefs. It is time we let those go, and get back to finding the blank and perfect slate within all of us!