Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The one with the Mask

This week, just for a little while, I took off my mask (see previous post).  I displayed a little more of my true self than I am comfortable with.  It left me feeling as if I were walking around in an open field, undressed, with nowhere to hide or shade to seek refuge in.  I felt vulnerable and exposed.

Was I right to take off the mask?

(Insert good Christian answer here ... 'yes, of course, God wants us to be open and honest at all times')

Over the last few months, a lot has been said at church about taking off our masks.  It is obvious really isn't it?  As Christians we are to live our lives with integrity.  We are to be open and honest in all we say and do.   We should therefore make every effort to peel off our masks, and live and love as our real selves.   Anything short of this 'realness' would be deceptive and dishonest, and not congruent with our faith and relationship with Jesus.

If this is true, then we should immediately take off and discard our masks.  Right?

I think there are a couple of questions that need to be asked before we go rushing about in a self-awareness frenzy, identifying and throwing away our masks.

Firstly, and most importantly, we should ask ourselves - 'Who is it we are hiding our true self from?'

If we are trying to hide from God, then we have a problem.  You see, we will never be able to do this.  We need only to read Psalm 139 to know this.  God knows our innermost being.  He knows our thoughts.  He has examined our hearts and knows everything about us.  We try to hide in vain.  Our masks don't fool God.  Take them off, and come before God as you really are and accept the love he has for you - the real you.

How about if we are wearing our masks before other people?  Isn't this wrong too?

If our masks are concealing our true thoughts and feelings from other people, dare I suggest that it isn't always completely wrong to do so?

Does that shock you?  I have thought quite a lot about this lately, and whilst I agree that we should live our lives with complete honesty as much as possible, I can't help but acknowledge that some masks are valuable.

There are some masks that are worn for self-protection.  It would be crazy to suggest a fencer participate in a fight without wearing a mask.  The mask is there to protect and enable a fair and safe fight.  Without it a quick thrust of the opponent's epee could cause great harm and end the fight prematurely.

There are times when we need to wear a protective mask to keep us safe whilst in battle.  Perhaps a mask is needed to conceal our weakness and vulnerability from the enemy. Or maybe the mask is needed just long enough for us to prepare and build up our strength before we attack.

There are also masks that are worn for the protection of others.  Surgeons wear masks whilst operating for a number of reasons, one of which is to protect the patient from infectious droplets carrying bacteria or viruses that become airborne through a cough or sneeze.  Similarly, there are times when we may need to wear a mask to protect those around us.  Sometimes a mask of strength may be worn to risk hurting others.

That said, these protective masks are worn for a period of time for a specific purpose.  The fencer does not continue to wear the mask once the fight has finished.  The surgeon does not leave the theatre and go home to sleep still wearing the mask.  They are taken off when they are no longer necessary.

We too should take off our masks when they are no longer needed.  The danger is that we get comfortable and continue to wear them.  They begin to form our identity.  Masks that are worn out of season stop protecting and start to form barriers.  They hinder the real you from fully participating in all that God has in store for you and they keep others at a restrictive distance.

I took my mask off this week, it wasn't easy, but I knew it was time.  It had been worn when it was needed, but it was beginning to restrict my own journey, and that I hope to walk with others. 

What about you?

What masks are you currently wearing?

Who are you wearing them in front of?

Are you hiding your true self unnecessarily?

Is it time to begin to take them off?

I am thankful that God knows and loves the real me - of course he does - he created me!  I am also thankful that he will help us to take our masks off at the right time.  He wont force it, but will gently encourage and support us as we do.  Phew!


  1. Intriguing food for thought, Jo (perhaps with a side dish of the "Godis" candy--loved that. I need to see if our Ikea carries those...). Conflict-averse individual that I am, masks are something I find very easy to don, but the inauthenticity of playing all these roles is both exhausting and untrue to what God has made in us. Thank you for blogging, even though struggle; I truly enjoy your reflections.

  2. I'm not sure which of my many masks to discard first. Thought-provoking!

  3. Good post. I'm wondering if there is a difference between wearing a mask and acting in a role? The danger is the same with both i.e. that they become confused with our true identity, but both have their uses in the right context. It isn't appropriate to be totally naked and vulnerable before the whole world. But neither should we hide from ourselves or from God.

  4. Hi Jo,

    Great post! Too many of us search for popular approval and true happiness, but we are not looking in the right places! Our true, authentic beauty doesn't come from the outside; it comes from deep down inside our hearts. The person we appear to be on the outside (when wearing a mask) is only an image; it's who we are on the inside that really matters. :)

    Blessings and hugs!

  5. That's an interesting post :) I agree with you that we shouldn't always take our mask off. I think it's good to be real and honest in general, but at the same time there are some things that are better that people don't know.

  6. Liked it a lot. A mask is good for self-protection and in the presence of enemies. Of course, enmity is not always clear, we realize it in retrospect.

    Our English word Hypocrite came from the Greek hypokrites "stage actor, pretender, dissembler," the word Jesus used.

    So to what extent should we dissemble and play-act?

    A good via media would be to be ourselves, without masks, but say as little as possible when we have reason not to trust particular people, or before friends are tried and tested. I had a mentor who used to say, "90 percent of wisdom is keeping your mouth shut." I don't know if he derived that principle from Scripture or not.

    And, to me as a personal blogger, it is a challenging statement. I guess I am being honest, and blogging my life, and trusting to God's protection.


What do you think? I would love to read your thoughts

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