The pumpkins are carved. The candy is in the cauldron. And the gumbo will be brewing soon enough.
Yes, it’s almost Halloween here in South Louisiana!
This will be the first Halloween for us in our new neighborhood, and we’ve been warned: keep the candy coming because the kids will just keep coming. All in search of sugary treats!
And regardless of your take on this day of festivities, masquerades will be all around. While some will be slightly veiled, others will be in full disguise.
All appearing to be something other than what they truly are. Who they truly are.
But eventually the candy will run out, the clock will tick beyond curfew, and the Halloween masks will come off.
If only we could remove our other masks right on cue. You know. Those facades we hide behind to protect ourselves. To pretend. Some of us have worn our protective gear for so long we don’t even realize we’ve donned it.
There was a time – a long time – when I needed my mask to communicate I’ve Got It Together, Don’t Come Too Close, and I Don’t Need Anyone. I wore them to hide my weakness, my brokenness, and the shame that accompanied both. Because I was sure no one would like that me. The real me.
Most of the time our disguises are defense mechanisms used to protect us in certain situations. With people who haven’t earned our trust. Or from those who have damaged it. And used sparingly, and for short periods of time, the masks are beneficial.
But worn for long periods of time, they do more harm than good. Just like the old, plastic Halloween masks I wore as a kid, they suffocate us.
My hope is that we all find circles of grace where we can remove our masks and be seen. Places where we feel safe not being okay. Loved, in between who we were and who we are becoming. Because no matter where we are on our journey, we are all in the process of becoming. No one finishes her race on this side of that 6 foot hole.
That’s the kind of person I want to be. The one who loves you at your messiest. In your brokenness. And at your very best as well.
Someone you trust enough to take off your mask. So you can breathe. Because growing requires breathing!
Jesus wasn’t offended by people’s sin. His heart was broken over their sin. He offered them forgiveness. He offered grace. And a space to grow in their knowledge of Him. And their relationship with Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”MATTHEW 11:28-30
I am grateful for the women who’ve been brave enough to sit with me while I peeled back the layers of protection, and loved the real me.
Jesus asked his apostles to follow Him. To watch him. To practice what He practiced. To learn to love like He loved.
So let’s begin with this: practicing the love of Jesus Christ, so that others can take off their masks.
What does that look like for you?Are you in a place where you can build a circle of grace? At work? Your neighborhood? With a few at your church who are suffocating and need to breathe for real?
Maybe you’re the one in need of this grace, and space to grow and become the best version of you. God’s version you. If someone invites you, say yes.
Let’s build some circles of grace and take off our masks.
Because it’s so much easier to breathe without a mask!
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.1 PETER 4:8
Lord, we know that you see us and that You know us like no other. And You love us right where we are. Whether we are following hard after You or struggling to believe. Whether our hearts are oriented toward You, or we’ve lost our compass. God, nudge us to create circles of grace, so that those who need You, find You in those sacred spaces. Amen.