January 29, 2018
Behind the Mask
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.
— Ephesians 4:1-2
Carrie hurried her two young children to the car where her husband Jim thumped the steering wheel in frustration.
“We’re late,” Jim snapped.
“Some of us have more than just themselves to get ready.” Carrie threw her Bible onto the dash and slammed the car door.
Carrie and Jim were still bickering when they pulled into the church parking lot. The Johnsons, a perfectly dressed and happy family of four, waited at the church door. They smiled and waved at Carrie and Jim as they drove past.
“Why can’t we be more like them?” Carrie asked between gritted teeth. “Smile, they’re watching.” Carrie and Jim plastered on fake grins, got out of the car and hugged their enviable friends.
A week later, the seemingly perfect couple divorced. Carrie and Jim were shocked to learn their friends had been masking their strained relationship for more than a year. Afraid that they’d be looked down upon for their imperfections, the Johnsons hadn’t told anyone about their struggles.
Church is a great place to build and nurture friendships, but it’s also an easy place for superficiality. Fearing rejection, we often hide our brokenness behind our Sunday masks. We pretend that everything is perfect, all the while longing for a place where we can ask for help. Keeping up the facade is exhausting.
It’s not easy to find a safe place to share our struggles and find support for our burdens. But we should start in the church. According to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we should all walk humbly and bear with each other in love. That requires tearing down the facades that we’ve built and risking authentic relationships. Not everyone deserves to hear our deepest struggles, but each of us can find a trusted friend to pray with about the things that hurt the most.
When we’re gentle with the hurting, encouraging them on toward a better relationship with God, we’ll become that safe place for true friendship.
Today’s One Thing
Begin to forge true bonds of friendship by sharing a deep personal need, a fear or a failing with someone you trust. Then be open and supportive when they dare to share their struggles too.