With Halloween around the corner, my girls are busy picking out their costumes. This year, they both want to be Ariel. That thrilled my husband and me because we already have all the pieces to their outfits, including the bright red wigs, and won’t have to buy anything.
Since they are younger, we get back from trick-or-treating early and then spend the rest of the night passing out candy to the neighbor kids and checking out their costumes.
Every year, I see lots of princesses and superheroes, and I imagine this year will be full of little ones dressed as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. At the same time, I also see a lot of masks. I have no idea who the kids are behind the masks, and that always unnerves me a bit. When a mask is on, I can’t see their expressions or have that personal interaction with them.
I sometimes get that feeling at church when I am walking in the hallways or singing in worship. I think about the trials our family has experienced and the masks we wore for those couple of years after adopting the girls. We put on our smiles and walked through church laughing and sharing about how great the girls were doing. Yet, I was in one of the deepest and darkest periods of my life and no one knew just how bad things were. I was afraid to share because as a ministry leader in the church, I was afraid I might not be “Christian” enough or lose my position.
I remember the day when a mom I greatly respected from my church stopped by for a visit. As she and I sat with our coffee and watched the kids play, she shared about the trials she went through in her early days with her kids and still sometimes experiences. I suddenly felt an amazing burden lifted from my shoulders as she talked about occasionally losing it with her kids, feeling like she wanted to run away at times, and the tears she cried feeling like she wasn’t good enough. I realized, listening to this girl whom I thought had it all together, that I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t a horrible mother.
How many of us wear masks in fear of how others will react or because we are afraid of not fitting in? Oh, how I wish more of us would stop and throw our masks away. If we did that and started to be real, imagine how our church bodies would change. We might start to realize we are not alone and that so many of us are experiencing similar things.
Today, I challenge you to consider implementing these following three things in your life.
1. Remove Your Own Mask
I don’t know what you are hiding behind the smile you paste on your face each time you head to church, but if you are in worship and a song moves you to tears, allow yourself to cry. If you are having a rough day, allow someone to hug you. If your children have been terrors all morning, and you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to confide in someone that you feel that way and ask for help. When it is time to share prayer requests, be real. Allow other believers to support you. It doesn’t make you weak to do that. We are supposed to live in community. Wearing a mask also prevents others from being real with us. They might think that if you have it all together, you couldn’t possibly understand what they are going through.
2. Share Your Story with Others
If you see another believer in your church struggling with an issue, or if you see tell-tale signs of a struggle you have experienced, don’t be afraid to share your story with her. Let her know there is someone else who understands and can walk with her through this time.
3. Get Rid of the Phrase, “I’m well/good”
If someone asks you how you are doing, you don’t have to give them a book, but tell them how you are really doing. If it is a great day, share with them why. If it is a hard day, let them know you are struggling and ask for prayer. You don’t have to be specific if you are uncomfortable sharing what it is with the person who asked, but just letting them know you need prayer opens up doors between you. You never know how opening up to them will encourage them to open up to others.
My friends, let’s start being real with each other. I pray for a day when Sundays are a day of believers shedding tears with each other, of prayers in hallways for those opening up about their struggles, and of excitement between people as they share ways that God has blessed them that week. Let’s remove the masks and put on reality.