Our tendency on the interweb (and off) is to create a kind of mask that displays our most attractive qualities, and then to operate in our relationships from behind that mask because we’re afraid of what other’s think of us. This begins very early in life, at least it did for me.
The mask I grabbed was like the masks the Pharisees of the Bible wore – I was a rule keeper and a rule enforcer. Sometimes I came up with my own rules.
For example, when I was in the 6th grade, break dancing was all the rage. You know that kind of dancing where people twist and spin on their heads on a piece of cardboard? Yeah, that. I’d embed some YouTube footage here of my mad skills, but we just don’t have the room today.
Anyway, somehow I got it into my middle school mind that breakdancing was actually sinful. I don’t know exactly where I came up with this. It wasn’t my family or friends. It could have been my vacation bible school (that never felt like much of a vacation). Regardless, because of my conviction, I would walk around my school playground during recess as kids were practicing their moves, go right up to them, and in a loud, clear voice, tell them in no uncertain terms that breakdancing was sinful and if they didn’t stop, they were going to hell.
But it gets worse! Because our masks form even earlier in life, don’t they?
When I was in Kindergarten, there was a rock band called KISS. Do you remember them? With the black and white clown make up? Somehow, they’re still around, probably kept animated by some sort of life support machine. I heard from someone that KISS stood for Knights In Satan’s Service. There was no way this budding Pharisee was going to have any of that.
So I would go around my Kindergarten playground during recess, walk right up to my classmates, ask them if they liked the rock band KISS, and if they said yes, I told them in no uncertain terms that KISS was evil and if they kept listening to them they would go to hell.
The mask I picked up early (like a lot of firstborns) was the mask of the Pharisee: trying to look good on the outside because I was afraid of what people thought of my insides. What’s your mask?
Is it the influence you have, the connections you have, the kind of car you drive, your zip code, your GPA, a certain role or title?
We’ve all got masks. And the interweb only amplifies that. But in order to love each other better and find the kind of satisfying connections we were made for, we’re going to have to learn to take off our masks and relate to each other as we really are.