Life Behind a Mask

ft_0392c03e45e4a1f0c85529c792a31fab

It’s the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year. Not Valentine’s Day or Spring or Easter. In my corner of the world, it is carnival season, also known as Mardi Gras. {No, I’m not a New Orleans girl. <Insert history lesson here> Mobile, Alabama is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras and my hometown.}

Mobile’s Mardi Gras is different from what you’ll find in New Orleans. It’s a different brand of fun and folly. Parades, beautiful floats, moonpies, & beads (but not so much boobs for beads, for which I am very thankful). After most parades, there are balls where women and men can be seen in their finest dresses and tails. And masks. Intricately crafted, ornate masks.

I love a good mask. In fact, I’ve lived behind one or another for as long as I can remember. I do take it off, but even if you know me, you’ve probably not seen me without it. We all have a mask that we put on.

Maybe yours is the mask of being strong and having it all together so no one can see that you’re falling apart.

Perhaps you wear a smile and put on happiness when you really need to break down.

Or is yours the mask of contentment? Letting the world see that you are at peace with where your life is, when the reality is that you long for the more God promises.

You see, I don’t believe these masks are meant to be a fraud or fake. It isn’t about deception, but rather about protection. Because being vulnerable is scary. Somehow we equate our vulnerability with our worth. Being real will cost you. It will also heal you.

Just like the masks we wore as children during Halloween, the ones we put on as adults get uncomfortable after a while. The air gets stale and thick, making it hard to breathe. And while wearing it might have been easy and even fun in the beginning, over time you’ll long for the relief that comes when you take it off.

The irony of it all is that we can never truly have what our hearts long for when we’re hiding behind that mask. Love and acceptance. A sense of belonging and the freedom that comes from being just who God made you to be. We yearn to be seen, but feel safer behind that mask. Self-protection becomes a prison, my friend.

Take off that mask and breathe in the fresh air. Stop walking through life as a “masked observer”. You just might find that others will find the courage to do the same and that’s when real connections are made. After all, everyone knows that the best part of hiding is being found.