Seeing through the masks

Have you ever wondered what is beyond the face someone is showing you?

Is there another series of thoughts running through their head that is different than the words coming out of their mouth or the expression on their face?

There is probably not a soul on earth that has not faced a situation where someone they respected or liked for some reason revealed himself or herself as someone other than anticipated.
In a recent small group Bible study I attended, we discussed how in the South, it is not unusual to find someone who is so sweet and caring with an amazing ability to turn a phrase, adding “Bless their heart,” to deliver a socially acceptable put down. Others will often smile or sometimes roll their eyes, should they catch it.
As an actor, I am honored to understand that we all have masks that we use. We begin creating them in childhood to gain acceptance, love, and friendship from our parents, friends, and teachers.
We create them over time to help us succeed, allow us to get along, improve our relationships. By a certain point in life we have them for all occasions, almost like the clothes we wear. The spouse/loved-one mask, the parent mask, the close family mask, the kin but not close mask, the work mask, the club mask, the church mask, the close friend mask, the acquaintance mask, the those in the same business mask, the classmate mask and the list goes on and on.
We are so good at keeping them at hand, we can change masks in mid conversation if the social event requires it depending upon whom we are with.
The thickness of the mask relates upon how much we want the people we are with to really know about us. The goal is often to have the thickest mask with strangers and acquaintances, with the level thinning, the closer the friend or family member allowing hopefully for our heart to be seen more clearly.
When dating, we often begin with the thickest mask hoping that as we put on the thinner ones they will remember us putting our best foot forward and forgive what we really are like. In many respects, I think this works against that process but the process is repeated over and over again by each new hopeful seeking to find their soul mate.
As I have traveled through life, I have watched some of the greatest imitators of life develop and share the human condition for film and television. Watching them peel away their own mask and put on someone else’s for a role was an amazing learning process.
Through the years though, it has given me a great insight into the underlying intentions of those I have met and come to know.
I have found comfort in knowing that at least in my sphere of experience, you can generally tell when someone is earnest and honest in his or her deeds, actions and words.
I am still surprised sometimes though, often it is when I have not looked close enough at the wrapping to see beneath the mask and realize that what is beneath truly deserves to be hidden from the rest of the world. If we would see it, we would only desire to turn away.
At times there are those who pose with a smile, then slyly berate another or try to tear them down to elevate their own standing.
I wish I could say that people like this don’t exist, but unfortunately, they do.
These days, most bad folks don’t even bother to put a mask on except for those they are trying to evade being caught by.
But the neat thing is, at least from my experience, there are more good folks revealed when they remove their mask than bad folks. I pray you are one of the good folks, no matter which mask you are wearing and I hope you always use your masks to uplift and encourage others!