I’m a sucker for those home videos on social media that capture surprise homecomings of soldiers. Their loved ones’ reactions are the rawest expression of joy. The mom who unwraps a large package with her son inside, the daughter whose dad appears at a school pep rally, even the golden retriever who smothers his owner with kisses. I can only take so many of these because They. Get. Me. Every. Time. Sobbing ensues!
However, there’s one video that has captured a deeper meaning for me. A young baseball pitcher is throwing pitches to a catcher. When the catcher removes his mask, the boy realizes he’s been playing catch with his dad who’s returned home from deployment. The boy, completely unbridled, flings his arms wide open for a fierce embrace and collapses in joyful tears, proclaiming, “I’ve missed you!”
Here’s the thing.
Don’t we all want similar reactions when we take off our masks?
You know…those masks we wear that are comfortable and acceptable. The masks that keep others safely at arm’s length as we hide our true selves, too afraid that if we were to take off our masks we’d be met with confusion, ridicule, rejection, or even hate.
The problem with masks is that they get heavier over time. The burden and constriction only intensifies the longer we hide behind them. The pretending becomes sheer exhaustion. But, what if we were brave? What if we chose vulnerability, risking to be fully known? What if we took a chance, set our masks aside, and revealed our true selves to a safe person? Baring all…
- Here are my fears.
- Listen to my shame.
- See my doubts and insecurities.
- I don’t have it all together.
- I need help.
- This is me.
Maybe, just maybe, the person we reveal ourselves to will fling his/her arms wide open and collapse in joyful tears, proclaiming, “I’ve missed you!”…just as the young baseball player does with his father.
The Good News? The true Good News of Jesus is that He is encouraging us to do just that with Him! He isn’t tallying our good works nor our self destructive choices. He doesn’t need our tidy prayers or cleaned up versions of ourselves. He is our Creator and already knows everything about us. He delights in His children when we finally tire under the weight of our masks, crush them underfoot, and fall into His outstretched arms as He proclaims, “I’ve missed you!”
Imagine the freedom. Imagine the exhale. Imagine the joy when Jesus doesn’t even give us time to ask, “Will You still love me?” He’s too busy celebrating, just like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
One more point to conclude with. To those of us who follow Jesus, this means we emulate Him. When a brave soul steps in front of us, mask removed, we are to fling our arms wide open and celebrate the courage. We suspend judgement. We applaud the authenticity. We step into the mess and create a safe space for that person to heal, grow, learn, dance, rejoice, struggle, whatever is necessary. May we be courageous enough to meet transparency with grace. Mounds and mounds of grace.