This past Sunday evening we had the joy of participating in a Contemplative Eucharist with Revd Barry Sendall around the theme of “Who I Am”. Barry spoke about the masks we wear on a daily basis – some of which we are aware of and some of which we are not.

This got me thinking this past week of the many masks I believe we wear.

As humans, we possess a remarkable ability to adapt to various social situations by donning metaphorical masks. These masks serve as shields, concealing our true selves behind layers of personas deemed acceptable by society. From the confident facade we wear at work to the amiable demeanour we adopt in social settings; we often find ourselves juggling multiple identities throughout the day.

But why do we engage in this intricate dance of masking our true selves? Are we even aware we are dancing to this tune? I believe there are a variety of reasons and are many are deeply ingrained in our societal fabric. At its core, the urge to wear masks stems from a primal need for acceptance and belonging. From a young age, we are taught to conform to societal norms, molding ourselves to fit into predefined roles and expectations. Fear of rejection and judgment further reinforces this tendency to hide behind masks, as we strive to maintain a favourable image in the eyes of others.

Moreover, societal pressures and cultural conditioning play a significant role in shaping our identities. We are bombarded with idealised images of success, beauty, and happiness, leading us to compare ourselves to unrealistic standards and often left feeling inadequate. And so in response, we craft personas that align with these ideals, often at the expense of our authentic selves.

Some of us wear a mask of perfection, trying to portray a flawless image to the world. We hide behind this facade, afraid to reveal our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

What about the mask of busyness, constantly buzzing around and filling our schedules to avoid dealing with our emotions and inner struggles. Or the mask of bitterness, carrying hurts and grudges that prevent us from truly experiencing the joy and peace of the Lord.

While these masks may seem like protection, they also limit us from fully experiencing the love of Jesus. They prevent us from being authentic and vulnerable with one another. As followers of Christ, we are called to live in the freedom and love of Jesus, not in the bondage of these masks.

Hallelujah – there is a transformative power capable of penetrating through these masks. For us as believers in Jesus Christ – our relationship with Him offers a path to unmasking, allowing us to shed our facades and embrace our true identity as beloved children of God.

Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin and all the things that hold us back from fully surrendering to Him. He wants us to experience the fullness of His love and grace, without any hindrances.

So, how can we be free in the love of Jesus? Firstly, we need to recognize the masks that we wear in our lives. It takes courage to acknowledge our struggles and weaknesses, but it is the first step towards freedom. Secondly, we need to let go of these masks and surrender them to Jesus. He knows us inside out and loves us for who we are, flaws and all.

Psalm 139:1-4 reassures us as David writes “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

God knows us better than we know ourselves, and there is no need to wear masks or pretend to be someone we are not.

True freedom is found in Jesus – who knows us intimately and loves us unconditionally. In Him, we find acceptance regardless of our flaws and imperfections. In Him, we can find the freedom to take off our masks and be our true selves.

And lastly, we surround ourselves with a community of believers who support and encourage us on this journey. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to bear one another’s burdens and walk alongside each other in love and grace.

May we be encouraged to remove the masks that hinder us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love and grace. Let us embrace our imperfections and allow the love of Jesus to fill our hearts and lives. May we find freedom in His love and be authentic and vulnerable with one another, knowing that we are all beloved children of God.

Much love, Michelle