We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Dunbar
Been going through a rough time recently with a lot of changes in my family life as we are adjusting to being a larger family. As with many major changes, conflict can easily follow. Its all part of life that two people share together. But this isn’t about the struggles that I have had with my wife, I have been thinking about the hypocrisy of hiding my struggles from those around me.
I’ve always tried to control and calculate my life once I hit my teenage years and didn’t like change because it left me vulnerable. Now I had to get past certain things for sure to go to college, apply for jobs, marrying my wife(haha). But I’ve always hid parts of me from the different circles that I may be in. Sometimes its not appropriate to be sharing all that you are doing, like at work. Work places may just be better for general conversations unless that is your friend base. For me, my job is my way of taking care of my family and I generally don’t mix my personal life in. Then we have our friends, our church groups or sports groups; what ever it is past there. I would dare to say though that we still only show parts of ourselves to those who we call “friends”.
This is Dunbar’s point. I think there is especially great pressure now with all the social media pushing the pictures of happiness, self help books, Youtubers making slogans like “happiness is a choice” or “Smile More” as if there is a personal solution to every issue we face in life. But we still fall short; and most of us will hide that and act like the times are still good. Recently I opened up to a friend about some of the stuff that I was struggling over with my wife and his response was “I thought you guys were solid.” Solid yes that we took our marriage vows earnestly when we said tell death do us part, but that never meant we weren’t going to have arguments or hurt each other emotionally. We are still broken and are part of a broken world.
Paul wrote numerous times to various churches (I Thess 5:11; Eph 4:2-3; Heb. 10:24-25) about the building each other up. However, we will never know how to build one another up if we aren’t humbling ourselves and living open with one another. Last night, my wife and I were challenged by one of our pastors and his wife to seek out those around us at church and in humility to ask for help and advice for our lives. This isn’t going to people and pouring out our woeful story; this is coming and admitting we are struggling and that we need help walking through or away from whatever is hurting us.
Jesus spoke about those who made appearances on the outward but concealed who they really were (Matt 23:25-29 is a great reference). Its easy to think that when Jesus warned his disciples about the religious leaders, that it wouldn’t characterize us. And yet, all the disciples left Jesus when he was arrested and Peter went on to deny even knowing him. So we can’t say that we don’t share in the same short falls that we see in others. But to end with this thought, James says in 1:6 that if we doubt when we pray (Christians doubting) we are as unstable as water in a storm, which means we have forgotten the power of the gospel and are allowing the power of this world to tell us what is possible and not possible. Let us remember the power of God and let go of our fears, essentially take off our mask. Time to build true relationships with others who believe the power of God is making us new and is completing His work every day to accomplish His plans for us.