Behind the Mask

Some people seem to enjoy sharing the smallest details of their lives with anyone and everyone. For instance, you’ve probably been exposed to a person on a cell phone call who seems to believe everyone within shouting distance is dying to hear what he has going on.

Reality is that everyone hides behind a mask to some extent. No person is willing to completely expose his heart, thoughts … or secrets.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping some things private. In many cases, it’s the appropriate, smart, and caring thing to do. There will always be people who can’t be trusted. They’ll take what they learn and use it to their advantage, whether it hurts someone or not. So there are times when discernment is necessary.

But if we tell our friends that our lives are awesome when we actually need a good cry, we’re not only hurting ourselves, we’re hurting our friendships. We’re not giving the people who love us the opportunity to help.

Likewise, if we can be on the lookout and be perceptive enough, we can help others to remove their masks. In order to do that, those who are hiding need to trust us. They need to believe that they won’t be criticized or judged. Remember last week’s blog post on unconditional love? This is one of those opportunities where you’re placed in the position of offering it. I saw several examples of it this week.

We live on the west coast, and this week my daughter and her husband visited from the east coast. It’s usually a whirlwind while they’re here because they want to see as many relatives and friends as possible. One day they met a friend for lunch; later in the day, they met another at a coffee shop. Both friends opened up and relayed painful situations in their lives. Until my daughter sat face-to-face with them, she had no clue what either one was experiencing. It had been easy with the miles between them to keep things hidden.

As they talked, the masks came down, and the truth came out. They knew they could trust her to not judge, but to just love and support them in whatever way she could. If she’d known earlier, she could have been there for them all along, regardless of the physical distance. She loves them and wants only the best for them.

It can be scary to reveal ourselves. It makes us vulnerable.

Pride gets in the way. We want to appear strong and capable—able to handle anything.

But do you realize that if we’re able to take off our masks and reveal our true selves, it gives those around us permission to do the same? Walls begin to come down. It opens the door to reaching out to others, and for others to reach back. “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2 NIV).

One last thing … Wearing that mask can be tiring. It can feel might heavy. Wouldn’t it be a relief to take it off and lay it down?


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