Growing up, I felt the need to wear a mask and to hide my true self from the world. My parents had extremely high standards for my brother and me, so I felt disconnected from my schoolmates and friends. Being a young high schooler, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t wear certain outfits or why I had curfew at 10 on the weekends when the people around me could wear what they wanted and stay out as late as long as their heart desired. On the outside I appeared to be successful and optimistic, but inside I felt unknown and lonely. I fooled every friend who knew me. I kept running from the purpose God called me to pursue and joined a group of friends who were great kids, but who didn’t encourage me to draw closer to God. Ultimately God transformed me my freshmen year of college as those friendships dissolved and as God provided new, godly friendships to take their place. Through these God-appointed relationships, I felt the comfort and freedom to be my true self: loving, silly, and encouraging.
In college, one of my favorite movies of all times was Phantom of the Opera. I have always been a big fan of musicals, so it naturally holds a place in my heart. My favorite part of the entire movie is a scene where they hold a masquerade. Everyone dances and sings, wearing elaborate masks as they celebrate their upcoming season at the opera. As they parade around dancing with their masked partner, they sing:
Masquerade! Seething shadows breathing lies . . .
Masquerade! You can fool any friend who ever knew you!
Masquerade! Leering satyrs, peering eyes . . .
Masquerade! Run and hide – but a face will still pursue you!
Like they sing in the musical, you can run and hide – but a face will still pursue you! Luckily for me the person who pursued me in college was God, despite how far I ran from Him and how I lost my dependency on Him.
Masks have multiple purposes. In the Phantom of the Opera, the phantom wears a mask to cover his scars and his deformities resulting from his past and his birth. God desires for us to uncover our scars and open wounds from the past so He can heal them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds. – Psalm 107:19-21
Masks can also cover our beauty. Some of us have wonderful stories to share, but we cover ourselves out of fear of rejection or fear of unsuccessfulness. Satan pours lies into us about our worth, our appearance, and our impact because he knows that when we truly take off our masks, we will be a force to reckon with.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12
Lastly, we can wear masks to become another person, disguising our true self. We see others and wish we had their life: their clothes, their relationships, their money, their job. However, God created YOU for a wonderful purpose that only you can fulfill. So while you’re trying to be someone else, the world is missing out on the change that only you can bring.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
Many of us still wear masks to this day covering our scars, hiding our beauty, and disguising our true selves. For some of us, our masks have become too permanent. As you go throughout this week, ask God to reveal what areas of your life you’re living in masquerade. Find a few friends you can confide in and let them know of areas where you’ve covered yourself due to shame, fear, and dislike. By removing our masks, we will be able to live a life with healing, without regret, and in freedom.