A friend sent an email awhile ago, asking a group of women about what type of masks women wear. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I think there is the obvious mask: the Martha-Stewart, perfectly-dressed-with-perfectly-dressed-kids, have-it-all-together mom. When you’re wearing this mask, you don’t want anyone to see any weakness or failure as you oversee the school fundraiser while cooking a three-course meal in your spotless kitchen and patiently serving as referee for your children’s bi-weekly disagreement over which one gets to take out the trash for you.
I think moms also wear the “I’m so obviously overwhelmed and stressed out that you shouldn’t expect anything from me” mask. The purpose of this mask is to make sure everyone sees your shortcomings, so no one would ever ask you to plan the school fundraiser . . . after all, you can’t even dress your entire family before leaving the house. This mask isn’t nearly as glamorous as the first, but I know I’ve pulled it out a time or two when the perfection mask wasn’t gonna happen.
There are probably other masks that we wear and variations of these. We all have our strengths and take on specific roles in our group of friends. If you are the organized one, you don’t want anyone to see your disorganized closet. If you are the phenomenal cook, you’d hate for anyone to know that your kids are having mac’n’cheese from the box for dinner (again). If you are the theologian, you must have an answer for every problem, complete with at least three memorized Scripture references. If you are the social butterfly, you hope no one ever finds out how lonely you feel most of the time.
In true friendships, especially in the church, I have seen a push to take off those masks. It’s trendy to be genuine and vulnerable. And I think we peek out from behind them with those friends we can trust. But lately I’ve been realizing how much my mask is still on, even when I think I’m being real.
Truly taking off your mask does not mean laughing with your mommy-friends about how frustrated you got with your kid yesterday or how annoying your husband can be. Taking off your mask means pouring out your heart, probably with tears, about how you have no idea what to do with that child and how scared you are about where it’s all heading. It means admitting your marriage is on rocky ground, no matter how many times you smile and grab your husband’s hand on your way into church. Sharing your shortcomings so that people find you approachable and witty is just trading one mask for another.
So my question to my sisters in Christ is, when was the last time you were real with someone? Not fake-real, not witty-real, not I’m-down-to-earth-but-I-hope-you-still-admire-me real. Because the bottom line is that we all need the Gospel. We all need to be reminded on a daily basis that Christ is enough and we are not. If we are willing to share with our friends that we aren’t measuring up, they can remind us that Christ already attained perfection on our behalf. His perfect record has been given to us by God’s grace, so we are free to be the screw-ups that we are.
When I admit my ugliest failures to my friends, it is an opportunity for them to preach the Gospel to me. And when they admit their failures to me, I can do the same for them. It might not be pretty or fun, but it is covered in God’s grace. That is genuine, mask-less community.
Now, who wants to meet me for coffee and take off some masks?Share