The Christian Masquerade
A place full of perfect people who have it all together - love, happiness, wealth, health, comfort, beauty.
But over the years I’ve learned that the best actors we see are not always on TV screens... sometimes they are the people who are right beside us.
People hiding behind a smile. Behind a picture-perfect life. Behind a mask that carefully covers insecurities, imperfections, heartaches, struggles, and pain.
I know, because often I find myself wearing that mask.
I put a smile on my face, even when I feel like crying inside. And when someone asks me how I’m doing, instead of replying with “I’m falling apart,” I answer “Just fine.”
But, one day I finally decided to do something different. I decided to put the mask down.
About a year ago I was going through one of the hardest seasons in my life and one day in particular was hard. It was one of those weeks I literally carried a Bible and a box of tissues around with me because I knew I couldn’t do without - the Bible was to comfort and encourage me and the tissues to wipe those tears away that just kept on coming.
All I wanted to do was retreat and be alone, but deep inside, I knew that was not the wisest choice, so I forced myself to attend youth service on Wednesday night as usual. Although I love going to youth and spending time with my church family I didn’t know if I’d be able to handle it that evening.
How could I possibly go to church and be surrounded by 150 happy, “have it all together” people, when I felt like I was falling apart on the inside?
How could I possibly put a fake smile on my face and act like I was okay when I wasn’t?
But I went anyway, not knowing what to expect.
At that time I was reading a book called “The Cure” about people who were vulnerable enough to put theirs masks down and be open with others. So, I thought to myself, “Maybe tonight I can do it. Maybe I can take the mask off and just be real about how I feel with someone.”
The first person I saw as I walked through the church doors was one of my girlfriends. With a big smile on her face she asked me how I was doing, to which I replied “Good!”… of course.
What else could I say? Once again, that mask was up.
In my mind I was thinking, “Seriously Anna? You thought you could be “open” with someone today? No one needs to hear your sad little story. Look at them, they have it all together, they’re doing “good” so you just need to pretend you’re doing good just like there rest of them”.
But then a few minutes before the service began, I found one of my friends and, of course, he asked the typical question everyone asks, “How are you doing?” And so I jokingly replied, “I’m doing really terrible.” I think I was laughing when I said it. With a confused look on his face he asked me…. “Are you joking or are you serious?”
And that’s when I realized I had my moment - my moment to be real.
You know what, I actually am doing pretty terrible right now," I said hesitantly. To which he replied, “No way! Me too!!” And, just like that, we went not to talk about what we were going through and feeling.
That’s when I realized I was not alone.
I was not the only one in that room who didn’t have it all together, who was confused about what was going on in my life, or going through a few trials.
At the end my friend told me, “I’m so glad that you’re doing terrible too.... I thought I was the only one who felt that way.”
And after that moment my spirit lifted and I smiled, genuinely. Because I had finally put my mask down. And after doing so, I realized that I wasn’t the only one wearing a mask. That I wasn’t the only one not okay at that moment. And that made me feel good.
Today I just want to remind you of one simple fact:
It’s okay to not be okay.
It’s okay to not have it all together. You’re not alone. And you should never hide behind a mask. You don’t need to tell the whole world about how you feel. You don’t need to wear your heart on your sleeve.
But you should find that one person that you can trust and be open with.
You should surround yourself with positive, supporting people.
You should choose to be a little vulnerable and transparent about what you’re going through.
Because when you choose to put your mask down, you will see that other people will also join you, as they cautiously share a piece of their heart and life with you.
Yes, some people will hide behind their masks forever. Some people will never allow themselves to be a little vulnerable… which I think is tragic, because there are many things we can learn from one another’s struggles, pains, and trials. And there is a lot of love and support we could give and receive.
Don’t let yourself be that person. I know I’m working on making sure I’m not.
In the end, we all wear masks. Sometimes unknowingly. Sometimes on purpose. But, the truth is we are all the same.
We all have struggles, we all have insecurities, we all have pain. We all have go through trials, face temptations, and make mistakes. We all fail, fall, and don’t always measure up to the “ideal” person we want to be. We all come up short somewhere.
We are all broken human beings in need of a merciful and loving God who knows us just the way we are, yet loves us so much, He chose to send His only son to die for us.
Never forget that whatever you are going through, someone has already been there.
Whatever you are facing right now, someone is facing it too.
Whatever battles you are fighting, someone has fought that same battle too.