“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”
–1 Samuel 16:7
Every October, I have an excellent opportunity to talk with the kids in chapel about the masks we wear and how God sees through it all and sees who we are underneath the façade. The lesson usually goes something like this…
“One night every year in America, people encourage each other to put on masks and costumes and go around looking for candy by knocking on doors! Do you know what this night is called? Right…
These costumes and masks are a lot of fun. Maybe a little mischief gets thrown in… something gets ‘egged’ or a house is adorned with toilet paper. But, for the most part, these ‘tricks’ are accepted as part of the tradition associated with October 31st every year.
Now, take those same behaviors and those same masks and costumes and try wearing them around town a month later, you will receive a VERY different reaction. In fact, some people have gotten in trouble this fall for wearing clown costumes and trying to scare people. It usually ends up badly for everyone when a mask is worn at a time that is not appropriate. Here are some examples…
Besides Halloween, there are many reasons people wear masks:
- So they can ‘get away with’ doing something they wouldn’t normally do
- To hide who they really are
- To be a part of the crowd… if everyone else is wearing a mask
- For protection… from the cold, from germs, and other things
Okay… now that your imagination is engaged, it is time to switch gears a bit. Think about your heart rather than your face! How do we put ‘masks’ on our hearts? I am convinced that we wear masks on our hearts for the same reasons we wear masks on our faces!
What can start out as something we wear for protection, or to blend in with others, or to hide who we really are… well, those masks can become so comfortable that we never want to take them off.”
Then, we break from our discussion and the children take some time to draw out the masks that they see themselves wearing. One girl really used this lesson as an opportunity to open up and share some of what was going on for her beneath the surface. Her picture is used above… notice how one side of the mask shows her outward appearance: excited, perfect, and (fake) happy. But, amazingly, she trusted us to see what was going on just below the surface: feeling hurt, mad, sad, and suicidal.
Part of the work we do in chapel every week is to address the truths of God and God’s Word and how they can give our children the courage to step out from behind the masks and into who God says they are: wonderful, amazing, and capable children of God—with the right to be loved and to love in appropriate and affirming ways. Thankfully, this young lady was in a place where she could get the support she needed to handle the big feelings she had underneath her mask. She was able to hear clearly that God sees past the mask and sees our hearts. He knows our fear, our hurt, our sadness, our shame…
AND GOD LOVES US. HE LOVES US. NO MATTER WHAT. ALWAYS. FOREVER.
GOD…. LOVES…. YOU!