"Removing Your Masks," by Cathy Mogus, from "The Lutheran Standard, February 21, 2010

This word about mask-wearing is so good and timely, that I have to share it with you. How many masks have you worn, or are wearing? I've worn more than my share, that is the truth. I have to examine myself by this article and the probing X-Rays of the Spirit of God, for he sees the masks I put on, though I may not see them. It is so easy and convenient to slip on a mask to avoid some unpleasant person or unpleasant situation or, on the other hand, to impress another person or even a group of people or a church. Too easy! It comes far to naturally--wearing masks! That is my experience. This article is very good at describing what masks are like, from real experience at high school reunions.

Do you play games with God and play games with other churches, wearing a mask or masks? Maybe they can't see the real person you are, because you are busy playing a nice, religious game. But God sees through the game, doesn't he? Even if people are deceived, He isn't fooled by you or me! We better be real with God. He will not let this game go on, He has his ways of bringing us back to reality and back to our real selves, so that our sinfulness can be dealt with by him. But the article needs to be shared, and it will speak for itself. Let this word help you and me become more transparent before God and others! I don't doubt I need this article more than any of you. What is "transparency"? Cathy Mogus defines it so well: "The ability to be oneself on a consistent basis."--Ed.

Attending my 30-year high school reunion was like crashing a masquerade party. Instead of wearing masks, however, we were all hiding behind wrinkles and weight.

Although we'd changed physically, I found it interesting that the disguises we wore as teenagers had largely disappeared. We no longer were cheerleaders, football players, or bookworms. On the whole, we'd become more transparent, more real.

Back then, for instance, Lori and I never sat the same table in the school cafeteria. She was a majorette, yearbook editor, and beauty pageant contestant. I was a religious recluse. Now, we shared a bench on a tour boat.

"I didn't come to the last reunion because I was going through a messy divorce," she confided. "My husband dumped me for a younger woman."

I, too, had survived a broken marriage. We were immediately on common ground. By removing our "I've-done-well-for-myself" masks, we could talk honestly and openly with each other.

Transparency, the ability to be oneself on a consistent basis, does not come easily for most people. We feel safe behind our masks. Hiding certain self-revealing information or behaving in an "acceptable" way keeps us in our comfort zones.

Yet, tiptoeing through life is no way to live. It not only stifles personal growth and potential, but hinders spiritual progress as well.

I have asked myself, "Why do we hide our true selves from others?" At the top of the list is low self-esteem.

If we don't like ourselves, we assume others won't like us either. The masks we wear to hide our true identity comes in different shapes and sizes: exaggeration, a stiff upper lip, bragging, lying, shyness, talking too much, putting others down, pleasing others to an extreme [this is a good checklist!--Ed.].

Marion, who battled low self esteem and the fear of rejection, seldom removed her "I'm-in-control" facade. She found it extremely difficult to admit when she was wrong.

"My mother always put me down," she confided. "She kept saying that I'd never amount to anything."

Having experienced rejection by the most important person in her life, Marion is unable to trust anyone. Unfortunately, she married a man who dishes out more criticism than praise.

Marion's inability to say she's wrong--or sorry--is her defense mechanism against rejection. She has few friends. She won't let anyone close enough to discover her true identity.

Some of us hide our true identity out of guilt. We become our own prisoners because of past mistakes, an unsavory background, or present behavior. We are convinced that if we are "found out," we will be rejected.

How important then is it to become more transparent? For starters, we were created to be ourselves. No one can take our place. We will blossom when we are free to be ourselves. Only fictional characters did great deeds while wearing masks!


God believes in us, so why can't we? The Bible says, "Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3). Our unique combination of physical appearance, personality, race, family and religious backhground, and life experience makes us the unique person we are. We can contribute a great deal to this world just because we are who we are.


Forgiving ourselves for not being perfect is a giant step toward transparency. Jesus Christ offers us liberty and forgiveness because He paid the price for our sins. When we accept His forgiveness--and then forgive ourselves--we can face the world unashamedly.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." We must learn to speak for ourselves, offer our viewpoints, but at the same time allow others to have theirs. Something isn't wrong with us just because we march to a different beat. We should have at least one friend who will love us no matter what. We must face it. Most of us only have a few best friends in our lifetime. A good and honest friend will help us to be proud of what makes us ourselves.


The more we believe in ourselves, the less we will need to change others. If we accept others unconditionally, they will likely accept us. Jesus put it simply: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matthew 7:1). We fear transparency because we fear unfair judgment.

Removing our masks will take effort. We must be patient with ourselves--and with others as they adjust to the real us!

My high school reunion was an eye-opener. I was voted the female who had changed the most! As I left the party that evening, this bookworn hugged a cheerleader. I was glad I left my masks at home.--Cathy Mogus


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