Halloween is over and the masks have been put away for another year.
Or maybe not. We don deceptions more often than we realize.
I’m sure I engaged in some subterfuge as a young child, but I clearly remember appreciating the power of concealment when I was about twelve.
Back then, Ideal Toy Company manufactured a doll called Flatsy. It was a Gumby-like bendable doll (with accessories) that became instant fodder for mean-spirited middle school boys who gleefully sang the commercial jingle:
They’re flat and
They sang with gusto on the playground, hummed in the hallways and whispered these words to any underdeveloped girl in the sixth grade. This behavior would hardly be tolerated today, but back then, “boys will be boys” mentality predominated.
And yes, I was one of those mercilessly teased.
It was humiliating. Until I discovered that wearing baggy shirts and my long hair draped down the front of my chest could (I thought) conceal the sad state of affairs that was my stubborn lack of development.
Fast forward several decades and I admit to a more sophisticated continuation of this art.
Now I’ll wear “flow-y” shirts to hide over-indulgence that shows up in the mid-section, Spanx under special occasion dresses to smooth lines and erase pounds, and make-up everyday to hide long-standing insecurities about my appearance.
I’m not alone as many women fuel a multi-billion dollar industry to mask our perceived flaws. These “enhancers” are not only culturally acceptable, but encouraged, and in some situations even expected.
But these types of masks are obvious. What about the ones that are harder to spot?
Masks are designed to hide the truth of identity. They confuse, conceal and mislead. Men and women use less tangible masks quite creatively and in many different ways.
Have you ever hidden sad or troubled feelings behind “I’m fine” platitudes?
Or lashed out in anger to conceal hurt and pain?
How about masking intellect by feigning ignorance, or covering guilt with defensiveness and pride?
Maybe exhibiting an outward calm to camouflage internal distress and chaos?
I’ve utilized some of these masks and maybe you have too. But I’ve also been blindsided when these masks were worn by others and then truth was revealed.
Because honesty and authenticity suffer when masks become a part of who we are; when they become our go-to strategy to deal with discomfort or vulnerability.
Especially if we no longer recognize that we’re wearing one. Long-standing masks can also fool the person who wears them.
But there is One who cannot be fooled. One who knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows our hearts and everything in it. We can hide from others with our words and actions. We can even look away from the truth if it’s too painful or embarrassing. But we cannot hide from God.
Nor should we. He promises us an everlasting love if we believe in His son Jesus, trust in Him, turn to Him. We can admit our fears, pain, longings, anger, disappointment, envy, hopes, regrets, plans, expectations and dreams.
It is always safe to be unmasked before God.
And it is there, standing naked in the light of His love, that we find freedom in truth. That we feel the depth of God’s love for us.
As we are.
So what are you keeping hidden today? What thoughts or feelings are you not sharing? Reveal them to God first and experience the safety He provides.
It’s hard. And scary.
Scripture for Reflection
Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.