Last year, I developed cellulitus over my right eye, causing one side of my face to swell. My son said I looked like Quasimodo, or one of those before and after face shots from a TV commercial. I couldn’t disguise the deformity; no amount of clever bang arrangement, wide brim hat or makeup could disguise the fact that I was momentarily deformed.
While in the waiting room at the ER, I overhead a mother with her son. She was quite sweet…a singsong voice, laced with honey lay beyond the curtain adjacent to my bed. But as the nigh lengthened, the honey drained from her voice as she attempted to keep him busy. At one point, she growled at him, ferociously demanding he keep still. Moments later the nurse came with some medicine for him. “Is this going to make him sleepy?” Came the pleading question.
I’m not saying the woman was evil, hiding in an angel outfit. But I wondered if she was as sweet and sing song at home, or if the ferociousness in her voice was more prevalent. Have you ever stumbled upon someone in the store, barking at his or her child about some minor triviality? The moment they see you, the Cujo in their voice dissipates and their hand rests lovingly upon their child’s shoulder.
It got me thinking, how many masks do we carry around, juggle and shuffle throughout the day? My husband and I are endeavoring to get our Youth Group to start “Getting Real” about their Christianity. And the idea of a plastic smile hiding an organic hurt has invaded my thoughts lately. It got me wondering, what would happen if we couldn’t conceal the secret sins, shame, hurt or pain we doctor, smile and cover? What if they became a physical deformity that showed itself on our face or body? What would you do if a swelling appeared over your eye, one dark course hair protruding from around the discolored skin? Would it force us to reevaluate the way we treat others? I think we have created an environment that forces others to conceal their hurt and don masks, rather than a secure environment that people feel comfortable enough to reveal their pain so they can be healed.