Monday, October 31, 2016

Taking off the Mask

Masks.  We all wear them.  It's the face we think people want to see.  The smiling, happy one that we wear no matter how we feel on the inside.  The mask of perfection.  I'm good.  I'm happy.  All is well in my world.

But behind those masks are hurting people.  People who really wish they could take that mask off for just a moment to let their skin breathe and their true identities to be shown.  But that would mean being vulnerable and that is risky.  Because generally people don't want to see the person behind the mask.  They want to see the happy, smiling, "everything is peachy" person.  The real person behind the mask may make them have to take a look at who they are.  It may mean that they have to acknowledge that they are wearing a mask.  It may mean they need to stop what they are doing and actually look at the person.

Today is Halloween.  The day when millions of children dress up and pretend to be someone different.  I thought it was fitting to talk about the masks we wear.  I wish that we could learn to be real and transparent in the Christian community.  But often, when someone does dare to take off the mask we are quick to jump in with judgement.  We let them know in spoken and unspoken ways that being vulnerable and transparent is not acceptable.

What if we did things differently?  What if instead of being quick to jump in with advice, condemnation and judgment or wanting to fix someone, we just listened?  Could we do that for a change?  Could we let someone know it's okay to take off the mask because we still love them?  Can we show them that we won't jump in with quick platitudes or telling them what we think they should do?

I've been on both ends of this conversation.  I've been the one that's been quick to try and "fix" someone.  But I've also been the one to take off the mask and immediately feel the shame and embarrassment of having been too transparent.  I've seen the blank stares from people not wanting to hear that much openness.

On this day of wearing masks, let's work on removing them.  Let's take off the fakeness and the plastic smiles.  Be real with one another.  Love one another.  Let someone know it's okay to take off the covering.