Michelle Jones Schroeder ponders the ways we hide our insecurities from the world - and from the Lord.
Even though Halloween is long past, I’ve been thinking about the masks we wear. Not the ones for costumes or even the ones to prevent spreading viruses; instead, I’m contemplating the masks we put on in our daily lives. There are days when we’re down and we wear a smile, and there are times when we’re terrified and we put on a brave face for the world. Indeed, sometimes these masks are necessary and even good in those moments that it’s probably not a good idea to show the world how we really feel. Perhaps we’re not in a place to speak freely about our sadness, like if we’re at work or the grocery store. Or maybe we need to be strong for someone else rather than encouraging them to panic in a stressful situation, so we set a calm expression while we’re scared to death on the inside. In those experiences, we wait for the right environment to remove our mask so we can let our real emotions out.
There are other masks that we sometimes wear that are not so easy to remove. These are the disguises that attempt to hide our insecurities and try to make us appear different than we really are. Maybe we try to convince the world that we have it all together when really we struggle just to get out of the house every morning, or maybe we portray ourselves as the perfect family on social media when inside the walls of our home there’s loneliness and pain. When we constantly wear these masks, they can become so attached to us that we can no longer distinguish the person others see from who we really actually are.
Many will say to me on the day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22-23)
When I read the gospel of Matthew, the beautiful commentary that frequently accompanies it cautions us against being a Catholic who checks all the boxes – Mass Attendance, daily prayer, and so forth, but never develops a personal relationship with Jesus. While this is obviously a very important concept that we all desperately need to embrace, I started thinking about Jesus’ warning in terms of the “bad” masks that we too often permanently adhere to our faces and our lives.
What if we don’t take these permanent masks off long enough to really show ourselves to Jesus? What if he can’t recognize us because we’ve tried to disguise ourselves even from him?
When we go to Jesus in prayer, we are called to relate to Him in a deeply personal way. That is practically impossible if we don’t present our true selves to Him. He can’t heal us, He can’t change us, and He can’t recognize us if we pretend to be someone we’re not.
Jesus isn’t scouring our social media accounts to learn about us and He’s not worried about what other people think when they see us. Jesus wants us to show Him our wounds, our fears, and our failings so He can restore us. Hiding our brokenness only prevents the healing Jesus wants to perform in our lives. If we stop trying to sugarcoat ourselves and truly let Christ see the real us in prayer, then one day when He sees our face, our Lord will recognize us.
Save the mask for next Halloween or, these days, your next trip to the store. Allow the Lord to see you now so He will recognize you later.
Copyright 2021 Michelle Jones Schroeder
Image: Canva Pro
About the Author
Michelle Jones Schroeder is a married mom of two who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She loves St. Pio of Pietrelcina, '80s music, and her family and friends. Michelle’s the author of The Handy Little Guide Series (Adoration and Confession) for OSV.