Listen,  for just a moment…. 

The debate for the last few months has been to wear a mask or not to wear a mask?   I have heard every excuse and reason for either side of this debate, and  I will not waste your time with my opinion, because we will do what we want to do, out of the concern (or disregard) for ourselves or others. 

But I will say, take the mask off.  

There are those who say they are simply fine, and they are not.  They say, “it’s all good”, when they feel like nothing is good.  Those who hate the place that they call home.   Those who pretend to be brave when they are scared out of their mind.   Those who are stuck in grief, anger and bitterness, sadness, or regret, yet life carries on.  Those who come across charming and happy but truly are an introverted soul, hiding a mountain of insecurities. 

Think about, for just a moment,  the young couple, starting out on a life of their own, moved away from parents to a new city, smaller house, new job, new baby, new school, Covid 19, and “this ain’t Georgia, I never meant to live in Texas”, kind of life.  Husbands job is now, from home, and hoping they can make ends meet.  Still, there is the hormones, pressure, new life, new job,  new city,  the new baby born to the couple, and the daily resistance of being where they don’t want to be, and the “nothing of this was in our plans”.  This young couple carry both a sword and a torch, trying hard to feel like this is a new adventure, when absolutely nothing seems like the plans they had envisioned.  Yet they “fake it till you make it” and wear the mask. 

Think about for a moment.  The officer working your city, who has his life on the line most days.  Brave and strong and ready to serve, yet a new administration evolves, and times are changing.  What he looks at now as a threat, used to be a challenge worth taking.   Trying to do his job with his hands tied, knowing, with every stop, with every arrest, there will be those who look at this one-time instance, through the lens of race, gender, arrogance, or innocence.  To buffer all the outside influence, he stays the course, does the job, and feels………………. Nothing.    Because life is easier that way, it’s easier to pull up the mask. 

Think about for a moment fearing death.  Yes, not the someday were all going to die kind of fear, but the time you or your loved one has a sudden heart issue,  Covid, cancer, or tragic car accident, yet you, carry on like a wind without regard for the branches it breaks.  Your mind is, to be strong for everyone, to be capable when the need arises, yet fear is there. Fear disguised in a mask, like work, a mask of keeping busy just to be busy.  The truth: its YOU that is dying.   The woman, the man, the individual who carries the family, the husband, the wife, the business, yet protects herself from being weak.  The man who that carries hidden stories, and the financial burden for more children than your own.  When the mask is pulled away it is you that is dying.  Trying to be the matriarch, the pillar, the brick house, yet ignoring your own heartache or health.  Scared to show weakness, the full responsibility, or surviving alone. Because truth be told, you are so vulnerable, when your heart is on the line, and its easier to hide behind a mask. When your loved one is taken too soon, it is much easier to fall back into work mode, to stay busy, to drink, paint, exercise, or work long enough hard enough that no one notices’ your mask is airy.   Work crazy hours saying ‘its business” or abuse alcohol, drugs.  Hiding or running like there is a house on fire, yet keep wearing the mask that hides your truth.  For all means wear the mask, for in those moments of effort that we put into “saving face” we move away from the pain.  

Yet wearing your mask, is frankly exhausting, feeling miserable, is in fact, a mask that is cumbersome, and uncomfortable.  Keeping it up tight, snug, where nothing gets in or gets out.  Keeping up the status of being a “bad-ass” or the “girl who never cries & has it all together” is really the mask.   

Pull down your mask, and breath.   Breathe for a moment.  Feel what it feels like to get air without being miserable.   Breathe knowing, while your parent, child, or loved one was alive, it was for purpose, and now that they are gone, you pick up the light that they carried, and you show it to your children and those around you don’t hide it under a disguise.  There is uncertainty for all of us in one way or another, and although we don’t know for certain that we will make it in a new city,  or will ever fill the void of a loved one who’s passed, know that we can find purpose in all of it, if we are looking for it.   Own when your heart hurts from crying the tears or scared not knowing how to survive.  Keep your trusted people, your family, and friends close, tell them that you’re having a bad day.  Talk to someone, and don’t deal with hard times alone. Because its then you will know, who your true family and friends are, and why they are in your life. You will know how strong you really are, and your strengths will far outweigh the season you are passing through.  

And that is when the masquerade is over.  When you can breathe, knowing failure breeds change, and hard days make the good days all the better.  These are the days that create faith.  Faith in humanity, in God and in yourself. You will know that the one looking back at you in the mirror is stronger than you ever knew before, and the learning was not easy.  You will know scared and how to handle it one day at a time.  You will know resilience and be so incredibly grateful to those around you, and possibly even the journey that brought you here.