Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. Masks or costumes were never my thing. Give me a camp T-Shirt, jeans and sneakers and I’m a happy girl. I’m in awe of the amazing costumes that I see each fall, but I never felt comfortable dressing up in costumes.
Even though I never loved masks and costumes and I feel uncomfortable in them, for a long time, I wore a different kind of mask; the kind that pretends to be one thing in certain situations, but underneath, is something else entirely.
I grew up in the church and, since my parents are officers (pastors), people expected a certain behavior from me, the pastor’s kid. In my teenage years, I wore a mask: Church Jamie and other Jamie. Church Jamie played the piano for worship services, participated in discipleship groups, went out with the visitation team to nursing homes and knew all the right Bible answers. Other Jamie lived a completely different life. I thought the mask was pretty good, but the reality is that I was fooling only myself. The mask couldn’t hide the truth.
All of that changed when I decided to follow Jesus. I wanted my faith to be authentic and was tired of living a double life. I threw the mask away.
I wish I could say I’ve thrown it away for good, but there is always a temptation to put the mask back on, to pretend you have it all together or to appear confident when you feel anything but. I think social media allows this and makes it easier for everyone to pretend.
It’s even tempting to do this at church, but church should be the first place where we can be our true selves in a community and acknowledge that we’re broken and in need of transformation by Jesus. In that space, we can work together to build each other up, to encourage each other to keep going, to support each other when life is messy and hard.
The Bible tells us to stir each other up to love and service, encouraging each other (Hebrews 10). It tells us to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6). It tells us to suffer together and rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12). It tells us to take care of each other (Philippians 2).
It’s not easy to be real with each other, to let others see your flaws, but when you can live in real, authentic relationship and community, it’s worth it to be known and seen and loved for who you are.
Let’s make space to be real. Enjoy Halloween, have fun wearing costumes, but in everyday life, let’s try to ditch the masks and live in real community together.