Behind the Mask

I’m not a huge fan of Billy Idol, however I do respect his work. Therefore, when his song Eyes Without a Face came on the other day I listened to it with interest. If you read the lyrics, the song itself is interesting. Still, it begs the question, how do you have eyes without a face? It wasn’t until the Covid pandemic that I was able to find an answer.


As the pandemic increased and mask mandates went into affect, it became the norm to see people’s eyes, and neither their nose nor their mouth. They were literally eyes without the rest of their face. This was a reality that I did not comprehend until the mask mandate was lifted. Suddenly people I’d been seeing for as long as a year now had a full face. No longer were they just eyes without a face.


As I pondered this reality, I could not help but wonder how many people I’m around hide behind masks? No, not literal masks, but rather a façade of happiness and well-being when life for them is in fact dark and depressing. If you think about it, all it takes is a smile, a forced laugh that if you’re not listening carefully sounds almost genuine.


Let me be personal. I hid behind a mask for over forty years, until one day I couldn’t do it any longer. It was then that I had a mental break with reality. What hurts the most is that for a great deal of that forty years I would lament my pain, only to be told to quit complaining, to calm down, and to simply get over it. Rarely did anyone listen to my pain with genuine interest. When I was willing to share it, I still did my best to hide behind fake smiles, and a witty sense of humor. Robin Williams did this, and the world was shocked when his pain was exposed by his suicide.


The greater truth, however, is that if Christians would spend as much time loving the people in the world around them as they do judging people for their sins, they would see the pain of a people who desperately need Jesus as their Lord and savior. If we follow the example of Jesus, we would not shy away from the alcoholic who masks his pain with a bottle. We would not shy away from the man or woman hiding behind a heroin addiction. We would in fact see the single mother of three kids barely able to get out of bed and go to work just to put a little food on the table. We would see the teenager on the brink of giving up on life because life makes no sense. We would see a dying world crying out for love. We would see this and more if we followed the example of Jesus.


Let me conclude with a suggestion or two. Do what Jesus did and go visit people. Walk the streets, volunteer at the shelters, buy a homeless man or woman a meal and just sit and talk with them. Talk with a stranger, and just listen. Visit a nursing home and listen to someone’s grandmother share her stories. Invite people into your home and share a meal with them. Or just walk up to a stranger and ask them how they are doing, and then wait for an answer. In other words, love people. Two things will surprise you when you do these things. First you will discover just how many people are hiding behind a mask. And second, you will discover just how much love you have to give away. There’s no shortage of people waiting to take off their masks, and you will find them if you simply follow the example of Jesus.

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The great twentieth century philosopher William Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” I must agree. And in so much as I understand the life Jesus lived, it was