Behind the Masks – Stained Glass Masquerade
Have you ever felt like you’re living behind masks? Like the person people see isn’t really you? Have we got to the point where we build up barriers: thinking we’re protecting ourselves, but in reality, we’re distorting the truth?
Being honest, I’m a massive culprit of this – over the years, in particular the last few, my ability to put up barriers and present a front to the world has grown, and improved. This has been great, especially when all I’ve wanted to do is hide from life; be it emotions, deadlines or just plainly my brain. For me, it’s been easier to hide if no-one else knew what was going on. I could pretend to be normal, like everything was fine, and everyone else would be none-the-wiser.
Oh, how wrong was I.
I’ve always been a bottler. I don’t like talking about my feelings. I always feel like I’m making a fuss out of nothing: that I have no right to complain or mention things because other people are going through worse. If I pretended nothing was wrong, then I didn’t have to face things. If no-one knew that I wasn’t myself, they didn’t see me as weak. It comes back to those perfectionist tendencies again and again. By holding myself to those standards, I didn’t acknowledge that I didn’t need to be at top form all the time.
Why is it always that it’s so easy to give advice, but totally ignore it yourself?
As with everything, there’s a learning process. I’ve been trying, for the past year, to bring those barriers down, or more likely, to let a few people in. It’s by no means complete – I want to keep myself guarded, but I’m also learning the value of being open and honest, and letting my true self out.
I don’t want half-hearted relationships where we don’t really know the other person. I want to be able to sit with a close friend, someone who I trust, and be able to ‘do life together’.
I was introduced to this song in a sermon about a month or so ago, and it got me thinking.
“Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles that hide our pain”
How often can we walk into a building, whether it’s church or somewhere else, greet people we know, and reply with the typically British: “I’m fine, how are you?”? I know I’m guilty of this – all too often, it’s easier to hide. But, do we then stray into the territory of living a false life? If our only impression on people is a ‘put-together’, ‘everything’s-sorted’ sort of thing, does that really give the best welcome we’re capable of?
Especially in terms of evangelism, I think a major reason why people can be put off by churches is that they appear to be ‘super-humans’, or where everyone comes across perfect. This is SO SO wrong. If anything, I feel like a church should be a place where broken people come, meet, and grow to know Jesus – because in HIM, we are redeemed, and made whole again.
As much as we can hide behind masks – we’re not living honest lives, nor are we living life to the full. While slowly taking down those masks and barriers is a truly difficult task, being open and honest with the people who are close to you can make a world of a difference. I’ve noticed slight changes over the past few months as I’ve started to talk about things more. I’m not in any way sorted – nor do I go and tell everyone what’s going on… (I accept the irony of having a blog, and putting this on the internet).
But in real life, having friends who are close and part of “REAL life”, is important, and I’m really learning the value of that.
The song goes on to say this:
“But the invitations open
To every heart that’s been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade”
I’m learning to take those walls down, bit by bit, and while it may take time, every little step is important.