Sometimes they are the people right beside us who hide behind the perfect mask, too scared to show that they don’t have it all together.
I know, because often times I find myself wearing that mask.
Although this was over two months ago I remember that week very clearly.
I remember it because it was one of my hardest weeks. (I shared about it here).
And it was during that week that I learned a very important lesson… a lesson on taking off that mask that I put on.
The mask that so often hides what I’m really feeling on the inside.
The mask that hides the fact that I don’t have it all together.
Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the week because we have youth service at night.
I love to come early to greet people, to catch up with friends, to have a good time.
But this week youth service was the last place I wanted to be.
How could I possibly go to church… be surrounded by 150 happy, “having it all together” people when I felt like I was falling apart on the inside?
How could I possibly put a fake smile on my face and act like I was okay when I wasn’t?
But I knew that I couldn’t let myself stay alone at home. There’s nothing worse than isolating yourself when you are down. You always need to be around good people that love you and will be there to encourage you.
So although I had no desire to do anything but stay in bed all night and cry I decided that I’d go to youth. But instead of coming early as usual, I would come right on time and I would leave early. That way I wouldn’t have to interact with people; I didn’t have to pretend to be okay.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
I came to youth service right when it was supposed to start (7:30) but it turned out that this was the last week of summer that we would have BBQ before service so church wouldn’t start until 8.
When I heard that all I wanted to do was turn around and go home.
I was thinking “seriously, God? Now I have 30 minutes of talking to people that I don’t want to have”.
Then I remembered about the book that I had read recently called “The Cure”.
It’s an awesome Christian book about taking off the masks that often times Christians wear.
The masks that hide our vulnerabilities, our faults, or disappointments, and our brokenness.
There was one group of people in the book that were all about wearing the masks.
Everyone was broken on the inside but nobody was allowed to show their brokenness and weakness and if they did they were looked down upon.
But there was another group of people that were all about being open, being vulnerable, being transparent about not being perfect, not having it all together.
Yes, even as followers of Christ.
And ever since reading that book I always wanted to be that girl that was transparent.
That didn’t have the need to hide behind the mask.
That didn’t worry about what people thought of her just because she wasn’t perfect.
And I thought to myself… “maybe tonight I can do it, maybe I can put my mask down, maybe I can actually tell someone that I’m not okay, maybe I can be a little vulnerable, maybe, just maybe…”
The first person I saw was one of my girlfriends and with a big smile on her face she asked me how I was doing, to which I replied “Good!”… of course.
What else could I say?
And once again, that mask was up.
I spent the next half hour chatting with people and actually enjoying myself.
The smile on my face wasn’t forced.
Somehow I managed to get over my emotions from before.
But in my mind I was thinking “seriously Anna? You thought you could be “open” to someone today? Really? No one needs to hear your sad little story. Look at everyone… they got it all together, they’re happy, they’re smiling, they’re doing “good” so you just need to pretend you’re doing good just like there rest of them”.
But then a few minutes before service started I found one of my friends and of course he asked the typical question that everyone asks “how are you doing?” And so I jokingly replied “I’m doing really terrible”. I think I was laughing when I said it. With a confused look on his face he asked me…. “are you joking or are you serious?”
And that’s when I realized I had my moment.
My moment to be open.
My moment to be vulnerable.
My moment to be real.
So I replied… “You know what… I actually AM doing pretty terrible right now”… to which he replied “No way! Me too!!” and we talked about what we were going through and feeling.
And that’s when I realized…. I was not alone.
I was not the only one in that room that didn’t have it all together, that was confused about what was going on in my life, and that was going through a few trials.
At the end he told me “I’m so glad that you’re doing terrible too, I thought I was the only one who felt that way”. Which I didn’t think was TOO nice. 😉
But after that moment my spirit lifted… and I smiled. Genuinely. Because I had put my mask down.
And after putting that mask down I found out that I wasn’t the only one wearing a mask.
That I wasn’t the only one not okay at that moment.
And that made me feel good.
Today… I have only one thing to say to you: It’s okay to not be okay.
It’s okay to not have it all together.
It’s okay to not be the perfect person that you think everyone expects you to be.
It’s okay to not have everything figured out in life.
You’re not alone.
And you should never hide behind a mask.
You don’t need to tell the whole world about how you feel.
You don’t need to wear your heart on your sleeve.
But you should find that one person that you can trust and be open with.
You should surround yourself with positive, supporting people.
You should choose to be a little vulnerable and transparent about what you’re going through.
Often times when you put your mask down you will see that people will put theirs down too.
Some people will hide behind their masks forever.
Some people will never allow themselves to be a little vulnerable… which I think is tragic.
There are many things we can learn from one another’s struggles, pains, and trials.
And there is a lot of love and support we could give and receive.
Don’t let yourself be that person.
I know I’m working on making sure I’m not.
In the end, we all wear masks.
Sometimes on purpose.
But the truth is we are all the same.
We all have struggles, we all have insecurities, we all have pain.
We all have go through trials, face temptations, and make mistakes.
We all fail, we all fall, we all don’t always measure up to the “ideal” person we want to be.
We all come up short somewhere.
And we are all broken human beings in need of a merciful and loving God who knows us just the way we are and loved us enough to die for us anyway.
Don’t worry about being perfect.
Don’t worry about having it all together.
Don’t worry about wearing your mask.
Whatever you are going through, someone has already been there.
Whatever you are facing right now, someone is facing it too.
Whatever battles you are fighting, someone has fought that same battle too.
Always know… that wherever you are at right now… you are not the only one there.
Sometimes all it takes is putting that mask down to help us realize that we are not alone.
Be blessed. –Anna… ♥
photo credit: [vivo masks]