- Sunday: 9:00am-10:15am & 10:45am-12:00
Have you ever noticed that people seem to have a mask for every kind of occasion? And most have become extremely skilled at hiding their true self behind their masks. Think about it – if you wear an “I’m strong” mask, you don’t have to worry about admitting just how weak you actually are. If you’re wearing your “I’ve got it all together” mask, you’ll resist having to share those vulnerable admissions of just how worried and anxious you really are. If you’re wearing your “I’m able to handle all of this pain” mask, no one will notice the frowns and tears you’re hiding behind that mask.
I admit that by wearing the different masks, you’ll have everyone fooled into thinking you have it all together. The problem is – it isn’t real and you know it! The most tragic part is that the longer you do it, the better you get at it.
Almost twenty years ago, I lost my brother to suicide and his death pushed me into a deep depression. I would get up and put on my “I’ve got it all together” mask and function in my job as pastor, while secretly I was hiding my pain, anger, insecurity, grief and regret – all very normal and natural emotions we hesitate to admit especially when we don’t want others to know we’re hurting. And the result for me was isolation. In other words, the longer I wore the mask, the more isolated, alone, and depressed I felt. Unfortunately, this went on for over two years.
To my surprise, relief finally came through a men’s Connect Group. I was preaching one Sunday on Hebrews 10:24 and 25 which says, “Let us stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting the meeting together as is the habit of some, but always encouraging one another especially as we see the Day drawing near.” The intent of my sermon was to encourage the church to get involved in a small group Bible study. Interestingly, I personally was not involved in a small group at the time and the Lord used my own message to convict me. I made the decision to join a men’s group and over time I really grew to trust the guys in the group. At some point, I remember making the conscious decision to take off my mask and share with them the isolation I felt and the overwhelming grief I was still struggling with concerning my brother’s death. I even told them that I was thinking about stepping down as pastor. To my surprise, the men didn’t judge me but instead, readily accepted the “real me” and over time healing came!
Listen, the Lord has given us each other for love and support as we travel through life and I’m convinced we’ll never experience those things until we make the conscious decision to make ourselves vulnerable to others and take off those silly masks. I say – take the risk!
-Pastor Peppy DuTart