I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, and parked my car. Having just completed a good run at the Greenway, my spirits were high though my energy level was down. I grabbed my favorite face mask, and walked into the store. Not needing to do a big shop, I quickly picked up a few things, and after noticing the long lines, went to the self checkout.

Now we all know how self checkouts can be very expedient, or it can test our patience if we run into a problem. As I am scanning some new inexpensive face masks across the ‘eye’, the voice kept telling me, “Put your item in the bag.” I had already placed it in the bag, but due to its lightness in weight, she didn’t sense it, and continued telling me to put the item in the bag. This happened 2-3x per mask, and unfortunately I bought 6 masks for my son for school! “Put your item in the bag.” I heard you the first 5 times, and stop saying that!

My temperature began to rise, as did my snarky comments to the female voice. The poor young man that was working the self checkout area had to keep coming over and helping me. Then “she” didn’t believe that I had placed the green onion bunch in the bag either, so she just completely shut me down telling me I needed assistance. The customer at the adjacent register was hearing my verbal commentary, and he responded with understanding a few times during my ordeal. This continual debate with the computer’s voice went on for over 10 minutes!! To make it even more exciting, a hot flash kicked in which was exacerbated with the hot breath under my mask. So what was to be a quick simple process became a full-blown meltdown moment, in front of others.

What I had failed to remember was that I was wearing a mask. In reality, it was likely a good thing that I was, because the man next to me wouldn’t know who I was as I freaked out over an incompetent computer. But, on the other hand, it was what my mask had on it. I had ironically chosen to wear the one that said, “I CHOOSE JOY’. It was at that moment that I realized how much weight my actions carry as I wear a mask proclaiming JOY. No, I did not represent well that day.

We all choose what mask we are going to wear each day – whether it be the proverbial mask that hides our real emotional state, or the physical mask that protects everyone from germs and disguises who we are. We can hide behind our emotional mask and put on a happy face, when in actuality we are crying or screaming on the inside. To do this is to lie. We can put on a face mask that says one thing while we do another, and that too is a lie.

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
Luke 8:17

Why is so hard for us to be real and honest? Why do we tend to disguise who we are and what we are feeling? It is easier to keep our problems to ourselves, and try to be positive for others’ benefit, but in so doing, we are hurting ourselves even more. This puts people at an arm’s length and doesn’t allow them to be involved in our life, or for them to offer help or a prayer for us because they believe we were OK, when we are NOT. We deny others the opportunity to be a brother or sister in Christ and share with us in our hurts and struggles.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2

Why do we often want to blend in with those around us and put on a mask to look like them? This could be due to a lack of self worth or self esteem. Have you forgotten who made you?

When I put on that face mask at the grocery store, I fully intended to represent JOY and share that with others around me. Instead, I allowed my circumstances to take my JOY away as I focused on something so silly, and caused me to misrepresent what I knew had been in my heart and on my mask.

Friends, it’s not wrong to get frustrated, or try to smile through your hurts. These are normal reactions in life, which are a healthy. What I am saying though is when we cover up what is really going on, or disguise what are wrestling with, it becomes an untruth. An untruth leads to a distancing from an encounter that could just be the answer to your problem.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
Matthew 5:14

As I walked out to my car, I noticed my license plate which says R3D33MD (redeemed). Every time I get in my car and drive, I am telling people that I am redeemed, a child of God. Does my driving reflect that? Am I cutting people off, or speeding, or am I being kind and putting others before myself? Am I remembering the mask that my car wears and portraying it well, or am I a hypocrite?

Perhaps you can begin today by being real – tell somebody you’re hurting and need prayer. Give them the opportunity to share in this with you. Don’t hide behind your smile, nor behind your anger. Perhaps after you open up and speak the truth to someone, your day will be better!

Be genuine.
Don’t wear a mask that covers your heart.
Speak the truth and wear it well.

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
Ephesians 4:25

Food for thought: Do people love YOU or the mask you put on every day?

Fun facts: The oldest masks in the world are believed to be around 9,000 years old, and are made of stone. They were discovered around Jerusalem in the Judean foothills.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Masked Bear