One of my most used quotes comes from the children’s movie, Madagascar (it is really the only thing I remember from the whole movie, but is sort of my “motto”), is this: “Just smile and wave boys.” We are always told not to judge a book by its cover, which is true for people as well. Every one of us wears a mask at least some of the time. We hide behind humor or a smile (my favorites, by the way); we use anger, keep people at arm’s length, or display indifference, perhaps?
I live with physical pain; others have emotional pain that they carry. I put on a smile and walk out the door. “Just smile and wave boys.” Only my closest friends and family know the truth behind the mask. I often struggle in telling people the depth of my pain. To be honest, most people who greet us with a “how are you doing?” don’t really want to know; others don’t even hang around long enough to hear you say, “I’m fine, thank you.” They don’t want to hear how hard it was to drag yourself out of bed this morning, or how it can be depressing to no longer be able to do all the things you love. The trouble with a happy face… no one knows you are in pain.
The trouble with masks is that they keep people from really knowing us; they keep people from praying for us. As Christians we should be able to be honest with ourselves and each other. When I choose to put on that mask, although not a conscience thought, I am being prideful. I think I know best about who wants to know more, or who can handle the details. I feel the need to put on a front that suggests I am doing well and don’t need prayer or support, when the truth is I’m weary and utterly dependent upon God for strength. I most certainly do need their prayers.
The truth is that we are all venerable and hurting. We all need friends to help bear our burdens. We need to know that someone needs our prayers as much as we need theirs.
What masks are you wearing? What is the condition of your heart underneath?