We have finally come to the fall season and along with that, culturally, the season for Halloween. The stores are already filled with Halloween costumes, fall Thanksgiving decorations and even Christmas trees, gifts and seasonal food! But the one thing that notably comes out in full force right now is the masks.
Do you have that one friend? You know, the one that is terrified of clowns. He or she just cannot stand to even look at a clown. We have a friend like that and it never fails for someone to post a picture of a clown and tag him in it so he sees it. There is just something about clowns that scares them, freaks them out, or whatever. You may think clowns are funny, silly or they have little to no effect on you. After all, it is just someone dressed up and acting like someone else anyway, right? But how often do we live our lives like that? Walking around acting like anyone else but who we are, or who we are in that moment.
Masks have two sides, the inside and the outside. The outside is what we want others to see; the perfect life, the lack of pain or fear, the good times. The inside is what we see of ourselves and, more than likely, it is also the things that we don’t want others to see. Clowns will create their make-up to portray what they want others to see. Do they want to be the happy, happy, happy, clown, or the sad, whoa-is-me clown? Do they want to be the shy clown, or the scary clown? They put all of their artistic talent into the design of the facial features, the outfit, the actions and reactions to present the persona they want you to see. It is very purposeful and every detail matters. You won’t have a sad clown with a very large and bright flower and you won’t have cheerful clown with a wilted, dark, and dying flower in their lapel. Clowns, then, are basically overly exaggerated versions of us. We will only put out there what we want people to see, while holding in those things we don’t want discovered.
We can’t control the masks that others put on and wear. However, we can seek, in love, to discover what is underneath other’s masks. To help them uncover the truth and work through it. Just like what we would want from our friends we are trying to help, we need to be willing to recognize when we are wearing masks and be willing to remove them. We can only control the masks we put on. Just like a clown, we get to control what we show. But are we showing the true us? Are we pulling ideas from what we think others want and putting it on our masks? Why do we choose what we show? Does what we show change based on what friend, family or stranger group we are going to be around? What is it that we are trying to “impress” upon others about ourselves? These are great questions for each of us to ponder and explore.
Typically, we impress upon others what we want in order to be accepted. Sometimes it is to push others away in order to not get hurt. Maybe it is a mask to look in control when we don’t feel in control. When we wear a mask, we hope that we will be treated the way we imagine we should or want to be treated. For those moments when our mask is on, we are who that mask portrays. But yet, we are still wearing a mask and people are reacting to the mask, not us. The person is liking the mask, not us. The person sees us as confident when we actually need help. The person sees us as aloof instead of wanting affection. Is it worth it in the end to wear these masks?
Proverbs 21:29 – “ A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways.”
It is time to remove the masks. We all know the masks we wear and when we wear them. But how do we remove them? How do we walk around with the true “who-we-are” showing?
First, we need to recognize that our Maker made us a certain way. He knitted us together in our mother’s womb. He has plans for us. Plans for our well-being. He thinks many thoughts about us, good thoughts. Even when we wear masks, He knows who we are underneath. If we only look to Him to know who we are, realizing all of this, then we can fully step into the person He has made us to be. If we trust God, follow Him and do His will, then we have nothing to worry about. It isn’t comparing ourselves to other people, it is trusting that God made us and will make us whole.
Second, recognize that everything in this world is a vapor. It is passing away, some days faster than others. The opinion of others is passing too. Moses wore a veil not to keep from blinding others with his shiny face, but rather to avoid the comments of people saying how the glory in his face was fading. His glowing face just showed that he had spoken with God in a very close manner. It had nothing to do with who Moses was. It didn’t define him. We all have first opinions of people we meet. Yet how many times are those first opinions blown out of the water after spending just a few moments with the person. If we first remember that we are created by God the way we are, then it really doesn’t matter about the fading comments or thoughts of others. I know we all have had someone say something to us years ago, either positive or negative, that have shaped the way we act. If we took those comments to the Lord, how many of them would stand the test of His will? Would you rather someone like you, accept you, or connect with you because of who you are, or because they like your mask?
Finally, show other’s genuine love. This is not a mask we put on, but rather it is Christ we put on in all situations and circumstances. This will allow others to be willing to lay down their masks. God created you in His image. If you put on Christ, you aren’t putting on another mask, but rather you are putting on who you are called to be. It isn’t just in moments of compassion. It isn’t just in moments of serving. But it is in moments when others are hurling vial comments at you. It is in moments when others are trying to walk all over you, trying to use you, treat you like garbage. IT IS FOR ALL TIMES! When someone is hurting, your genuine love through compassion will lift them up. When someone is hurting you, your genuine love through your response will convict them.
It is time to take our masks off and step wholly into the image of Christ that God created us to be.