One morning a few weeks ago, as my husband, Kent passed my office on the way out the door to work, he saw a strange sight. It was 7:30 in the morning, the sunlight was shining through the stained glass window in my office onto the mask that I have hanging on the opposite wall. The mask is one that I made as part of a class recently to symbolize the transformation of becoming our authentic selves.
The sun was illuminating the mask in the most profound way. It was odd enough that this happened once, but when it happened again the next day, I concluded that this was too much of a coincidence to ignore.
I found myself asking these questions. Is there a message that the Holy Spirit is sending that I am supposed to pay attention to? If so, what is the message? Who is the intended recipient of this message? Is it for me because it’s my office, my mask? Is the message for Kent because he is the one who witnessed it first-hand? As I contemplated this, I have come to believe that the message is for each and every one of us. Illuminating the masks that we wear, that cover up our authentic selves, is an important part of the spiritual journey.
As part of the inner work that I have done over the past couple of years to become an effective energy healer, we learned that as humans we unconsciously create masks to portray an image of ourselves to the outer world. It’s what we think we need to do or be in order to be loved or to feel safe. The masks are really covering up feelings of inadequacy, fear, pride, will, anger, judgment, or criticism. These masks are a state of inauthenticity– it is not who we really are.
One mask we might wear is the “serenity mask”. The message we portray to the world when we wear this mask is, “Let’s not talk about anything bad. Let’s just be nice, whatever you want to think, say or do is okay with me. I don’t ever get hurt – ever”. When we wear this mask we avoid uncomfortable feelings of anger, grief, fear, and pain and the conflicts or confrontations that might occur if we express these real feelings. We wear this serenity mask because deep within us we are hiding the fear of aggression; so we may seek safety through isolation.
Another mask we might wear is the “power/will mask” that portrays to the world, “I can do anything. I will not say ‘No’. I am capable of everything and anything and I will push my way through it so that I don’t disappoint anyone. I will endure.” We wear this mask when we are unconsciously covering up our terror of feeling inadequate.
Another mask that is very common in spiritual communities is the “love mask”. We wear this mask to draw people in through an artificial facade of love. The way that this manifests is portraying to the outer world that we love everyone and everything, and we deny that we have any thoughts or feelings that are undesirable. “I love everyone. I have no ugliness in me. I walk in only bliss and peace all day.” This love mask hides the terror of hatred unconsciously within us.
Have you ever worn any of these masks? I know that I have. I think there are many times people feel that they need to wear these masks in order to be good Christians. Jesus demonstrated authenticity. He expressed feelings of anger driving the Money Changers from the Temple (John 2:13-17). He expressed anguish when he said to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “ My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26:36 – 39). When the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus saying that the law commanded them to stone her, Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” When they all walked away, Jesus extended mercy to the woman and said, “Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11).
A recent example that I believe beautifully demonstrates authenticity is how Pr. Kris and her sister Kim so vulnerably shared their thoughtful responses to the question, “How are you doing?” upon the recent death of their mother Karen on Karen’s Caring Bridge site on October 13 and 15, 2014.
They could have chosen to wear the “serenity mask” and not say anything that would make anyone uncomfortable and only shared how they may have been blessed by this experience. They could have chosen to wear the “love mask” and sugar-coated and covered up the pain that they are experiencing. They could have chosen to wear the “power/will mask” and given a message that they will push their way through this, they will endure no matter what.
Instead, they honestly shared about the pain that they have experienced as well as the blessings. They shared both the challenges and difficulties they experienced, their palpable grief from the loss of someone whom they loved dearly, and how it has impacted their lives and the lives of others who knew and loved Karen. They were not speaking through a mask when they wrote their responses to that question. They were honest and authentic, and I respect and admire them for the courage and vulnerability that this requires. Pr. Kris did not portray that she has to embody a super-human strength just because she is a pastor. It helped me to connect with her on a deeper level, as a human being who is on this journey along with the rest of us.
So as I look at that photo of my mask being illuminated by the light shining brightly upon it, I am reminded that God is calling me to become consciously aware of the masks that I wear. The Holy Spirit is gently nudging me to look underneath these masks to discover the fears from which I might be hiding. Why might I feel inadequate? Why might I be afraid of someone being aggressive towards me? Why might I be terrified of feeling hatred? The spiritual journey invites us to look deeply within and get in touch with these things so that they can be healed. And when we do, our core essence of light and love is able to shine through us effortlessly and we will be empowered to share our true, authentic selves with the world.
Thank you God, for the difficulties and blessings we experience on this spiritual journey. May your Holy Spirit illuminate the masks that we have created in order to feel safe, or to be loved. Be with us as we find the courage within us to seek to heal the fears that lie underneath these masks. And as we do, may we experience the abundance of your divine essence flowing through us and become more of our authentic selves that we are called to be. And so it is.
Excerpts taken from Rukha® Academy of Healing Arts and Science – Living With Consciousness™.