A Wardrobe Of Masks

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner

I have discovered that in the land of the lonely, one has an immense wardrobe of masks. It makes me wonder what the true face underneath is. I don the masks every day, all day, with none of the consideration usually given wardrobe choices.

I am now widow clad.

There is the mask of I can do this. It is a part of my collection that contains my I can manage and I am strong masks. I consciously and knowingly don I can do this every morning. It fits well after a night of rest and my morning time of prayer and devotions. I begin my days feeling strong.

I can manage is a stubborn mask that I should not wear as much as I do. It is not very charming, but my stubborn, independent streak holds to it many times when I should not. As much as I appreciate others’ help, I can manage stays stuck in place. I cannot peel it away.

When I spend any time in public with people I do not know, I wear my life is as usual mask. No one would ever know the pain I am feeling when I stroll through the grocery store aisles without you, when I fill the gas tank of my car, a chore you always did for me, or when I sit alone in the doctor’s waiting room. It slips off my face a bit when I watch a husband and wife, hand in hand, take a walk together, enjoy a conversation with each other or catch each other’s eye in the sharing of a thought. It is not a well-fitting mask.

The mask of busyness fits quite well. I have always been a busy person and so I’m busy doesn’t look unreal to others, but I know that often it is just a cover-up. Perhaps I should find a way to recycle this friendly mask and begin to face how I really feel. The I’m busy mask has a counterpart in my I’m in a hurry mask. They are both well-used.

Isn’t this wonderful? is a mask that is hard to explain. There is truth in the sense of wonder in the birth and baptism of our new great-grandchildren or when I attend the wedding of a grandchild. The Isn’t this wonderful mask exhibits my true feelings but veils the pain I feel in experiencing these joys alone. You would burst with pride and joy at each of these life experiences. Though filled with that same pride and joy, the emptiness of my heart overflows.

In my attempts to truly see myself, I find I hide behind the mask of religiosity when it seems appropriate. In my heart and in my grief, I wonder where God is, and then, wearing the mask of religiosity, I say, “He is in control.” The answer to the big question of ‘why?’ lies between God and me, but my handy mask betrays any uncertainty.

At the end of my day’s masquerade, my tears wash away the masks, and I don my nighttime wear—a true I cannot do this alone face. Though my heart still questions where God might be in all my brokenness, there is nothing that conceals his love and care for me. Only through his grace will I find a way to be truly who I am and dance in the land of the lonely without the masquerade.      

About the Author

Joyce Sluiter lives in Zeeland, Mich., where she attends Community Reformed Church. She enjoys the blessing of her large family, and recently she wrote her memoir, Turn Around, Turn All the Way Around.

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Comments

Thankful for your courage as you lowered these masks enough to write this beautiful piece.

I will share this with those I know who are grieving, they will find comfort in it. May God continue to bless you with his comfort as well.

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