The Masks We Need To Take Off
I watched a video the other day where a young woman who had her mask pulled down below her chin crowded an elderly lady with a cane in a line at a pharmacy. The older lady asked her to back up, and put her mask on properly.
The young woman responded by grabbing the older one and flinging her to the ground, fracturing her leg.
You might be asking yourself (as I did), "Why anyone would do such a thing?" But this same scenario gets played out all over the United States---confrontations over mask wearing, that devolve into physical altercations.
Not surprisingly, the lines that are being drawn when it comes to wearing or not wearing a mask in public are largely political in nature. Pretty much everything gets politicized nowadays, so why should mask wearing be any different, right?
In my humble opinion on the subject... it seems to me that no matter what you might believe about mask wearing personally, you ought to do whatever needs to be done to take care of others who might be vulnerable---even if you aren't.
Like I said, that's just my humble opinion...
But the thought occurred to me the other day that despite the fact that most of us are walking around wearing physical masks, those aren't the masks that we should be concerned about.
Almost all of us have masks that we have been wearing long before COVID. We have a collection of them, in fact, and we don them and remove them at will---depending on the face we want to show to the world.
Some of us wear the mask of over-confidence in the face of debilitating fear of failure. Others of us wear masks of happiness event though we are wracked by sadness or grief.
We slide on the mask of faith even when we are plagued by doubts. Or we pull on the mask of too-certain belief to cover up the things we hate about ourselves, our shortcomings and misses.
Perhaps the most-used mask of all is the one that covers up shame and self-loathing.
And we struggle with taking these masks off, don't we? We wonder what will happen if we just lift them off and let the world see us. But the longer we wear them, the harder it becomes to distinguish between our masks and our "real" face.
Canadian author André Berthiaume famously wrote:
“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
Jesus told his followers that when it came to their own life of faith they should not act like "the hypocrites" who prayed loudly and acted all religious even though they lived in ways that negated everything they said.
The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word for "actor." In the ancient world actors wore masks to convey the emotion or intent of the character they were playing.
So Jesus is essentially telling his followers: "Take off the mask. Live congruently. don't pretend to be something that you aren't. God accepts you just as you are--and loves you enough to not let you stay that way."
Pastor Rick Warren once wrote:
Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.
If you are tired of wearing emotional masks... of pretending to be someone you aren't. If you are weary of trying to keep track of all your different faces... the ones that cover up your pain, hurt, doubt and fear...
Know that you are not alone in this.
The God who created you, knows your true face, and loves you madly. And this knowledge ought to give you the confidence to be free from living differently on the outside than who you are on the inside.
You are loved. Just as you are. And that love will lead you ever closer to your truest and best self.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.