My husband has been preaching a series on the masks we wear in church. It was inspired by this song from Casting Crowns.
Thinking about the masks we wear can be a deeply uncomfortable subject. Most of us prefer to put up our, “I’m Fine” mask–smiling in the pew when we really want to scream. As my husband said, F-I-N-E is really just an acronym for freaked out, insecure, nervous and emotional.
When we “mask” our selves on Sunday mornings, we are living into the idea that Christians are hypocritical and disingenuous. In other words, our masks make us fake. And “fake” does not reach out and draw others in.
Our masks isolate and alienate us from the rest of the world. We look around at everyone else’s masks and think we’re the only ones who: yelled at our kids before church, argued with our spouse the night before, purposely let the voicemail pick up a bill collection call, can’t afford to go out to lunch after worship, hates the idea of going into work the next day, is counting down the minutes to the next drag/hit/drink, cried in the shower because everything has just gotten to be too much.
The truth is, I’ve been through almost each and every one of the above at one time or another. And my guess is, you have too. So instead of hiding our humanity away, why don’t we accept it and acknowledge it? Why can’t we say on Sunday mornings, “I don’t have it all together today”?
The answer is, we’re terrified of being judged. The Christian church has done such a terrific job of cultivating an atmosphere of guilt and shame that we are now afraid to enter into God’s house with our full-on broken human nature. And that is completely contrary to the Gospel message.
Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me all you who are perfectly coiffed, appropriately dressed, happy and content.” Rather, Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
God doesn’t want us to come to Him wearing our masks. He wants us to be real. God wants us to bring him our hurts, our failures, our struggles, our fears, our broken hearts and dreams and homes. God wants us to come to Him in all of our weakness because He has promised us that in our weakness we are made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And when we gather together as a family of believers with our masks unveiled, we are able to demonstrate God’s great love to one another in very real and profound ways. When we have the courage to leave our masks at home on Sunday mornings we have the opportunity to both give and receive mercy, grace and hope.
Moreover, when we have the courage to take away our masks, we will see that we are not alone. Whatever you’re hiding away, someone else has been through, too. But you’ll never know, until you take away the mask.
So here’s me without my mask:
1. My kids stress me out. I make parenting mistakes. Sometimes I “lose it” and yell at them. I hate it, but it happens.
2. I’ve been on Zoloft for about 7 years. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I believe in “better living through chemistry”. It’s okay. It works for me.
3. I take my husband for granted. I focus, at times, on the little things that irritate me instead of being grateful for everything he is and all he does for me. I don’t always show my love or gratitude. I have a lot of room to grow!
4. I struggle with food addiction. I use food as a “mask” at times. I love sweets. I am an emotional eater. I use food to make myself feel good. And, if I’m not careful, I can totally binge out on things that are terrible for my body. It’s a constant battle, and one that will always be so.
5. I am not a conservative. In fact, I am quite a liberal Christian. Read into that what you will. As a pastor’s wife, that’s a big mask for me!!
Obviously, there are more I could list. I tend to be rather lazy and selfish and unproductive at times. But I think you get the picture. I’m human. And people can judge me however they will. It’s okay. Because I know I’m not alone. And I know that God sees me and loves me anyway.
Blessings and Peace,