Removing masks

The timer dinged – had it already been 10 minutes? Brooke and I looked at each, grinned, and raced to the bathroom. These monthly “spa days” were fun. We would try out new products we found and chat, while we waited for the polish to dry, the pore strips to do their thing or, in this case, the clay mask to harden.

I don't look this good in a green, gooey mask

We started at the top, peeling away the green clay from our foreheads, revealing more new skin with a pinky hue. It was a competition, of sorts, to see who could get the entire mask off in one piece. Eventually, the mask pulled loose from our noses and cheeks and chins.

She and I crowded into the mirror, looking closely to see whether our skin looked renewed and vibrant. Usually, it hadn’t, but the experience had been fun. On a spa day, Brooke and I removed our masks and talked.

There are many masks we put on. I have masks that keep others from seeing the real me, because I don’t want to be judged or laughed at or dismissed. So, I cover my actions, opinions and thoughts with masks of various materials. I cover with education, overcompensation with false bravado (bravada?). I cover with anger to hide my insecurity. I cover with haughty pride to mask my uncertainty.

But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? – Galatians 4:9


Those masks are warm and comfortable, but they keep us from forming and maintaining authentic relationships. Masks keep us in character, not displaying our characters. For my sister and me, it’s the removal of those literal masks that give us the opportunity of disposing of the figurative ones.

How do you ensure authentic communication in your relationships?


23 responses to “Removing masks

  1. I’m still trying to figure it out. What I’m trying is to make the conscious choice to do so and then choosing to do so again and again. Day in day out it is a fresh choice to be authentic in our relationships. Not really profound, but the way I see that things are.

  2. Great post. For quite some time I’ve struggled with transparency. Not because I didn’t want to share thing, but that I’m fearful of how it will come across, “ruffle any feathers”, and make people think less of me. It definitely causes me to remember the importance of being vulnerable and open with what’s going on.

    In fact, one of my favorite poems is “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

  3. It’s so easy to build up the masks even from the guise of not wanting to bother anyone with your burdens to the pride of trying to look like we have it all together. I think we don’t understand sometimes that it’s not about sharing everything with everyone, but having those we can trust and rely on to love us no matter what. Without that, we miss out on some of the greatest joys in life. Thanks Kristin. Great post.

    • That’s so true. I can’t tell everyone everything – that would be both ineffective and inappropriate, but I have to trust those who love me to love me without the masks.

  4. Kristin, I find it a little eerie that most of your commenters on a “green mask” post are guys – myself included. I will say that when I wear my “green mask,” folks say it’s an improvement.

    I think our masks also come from hiding behind what we do. When we ask someone who they are, they say, “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a teacher,” or “I’m a janitor,” or even “I’m a mom/dad,” as if those things defined us. We are so much more than that, and in the end, God doesn’t care what things we did for a living. That was for us. What God cares about is if we lived out who we are. If we explored our identity and used it to make a difference to those around us. Great post.

    And for the record, I really don’t wear face cream.

    • Bryan-
      I think most of my regular commenters ARE guys. I just commented on someone else’s post about beards, though, so, an adequate metaphor crosses gender lines.

      I think it’s true that we hide behind our professions or our place in a family. When I teach interpersonal communication, I say that communicating with someone based solely on your status or theirs isnt interpersonal, but rather, impersonal.

  5. I was always concerned how people see me in relations to Christ. As you know, there are many people who are very strict about certain things. I felt as if I had to walk in eggshells just so I avoid any negative feedback.

    One day, I was convicted to stop. I removed said mask and I decided to live life as me. What a refreshing decision. I don’t care who says what, I just know that I am me and God wants me to do just that. If (when) I sin, I don’t have to hide it, I have access to the throne of grace and forgiveness in His name.

    • I still have trouble letting go when my more permissive opinions abutt someone else’s more conservative tendencies – and what Paul says about not causing your brother to stumble helps me through.

  6. Good question. I try to be transparent with my wife, and go from there. If I cant be real with her, I don’t have much hope outside the house either.

  7. Mo makes a great point. I try to be as open and honest as possible.

  8. I think my tendency to hide behind masks is because I’m afraid that people won’t like the “real” me. As I grow in trust with people, then I am more apt to take the mask off – even if it is a slow process.

  9. Kristen, I like to hide behind education, bravada, and anger too. 😦 Being in real, deep community with others has helped me to strip off my masks. In my small group, we’ve committed to telling eachother the nitty gritty. When we ask, “How can I pray for you?” It cuts to the quick and often leaves me in tears, shedding a mask I didn’t even know was there. And, it’s amazing how similar we all are underneath those masks. My community keeps me in check. I don’t know who or what I would be without them.

  10. You know me, so you know where I’m taking this. For me it’s all about identity. It wasn’t until I understood who God says that I am that I could be real with others. I was able to do it in small ways before God really rocked my world, but it was always with much trepidation and still the mask was on partially.

    I definitely haven’t “arrived” but I have gotten much better about showing the “real” me in my relationships. I feel like the blog outlet helps as well. Plus, my Scream mask makes my face sweat.

    • Removing masks has to start with self-awareness. Until I know who I am, I can’t be me to anyone else. I find myself in Christ, and sometimes I’m still reluctant to show others the me that’s fearfully and wonderfully made.

  11. It’s a constant process. Being comfortabel in my own skin seems to be key for me.

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