We all do it to some extent. It may be to impress someone. It may be as a social more. It may be to hide our pain and hurts.
We put on a mask.
And to some extent, it is encouraged by those around us and even by society as a whole. At least in my experience I’ve been told by people to “Stop crying.” when I felt sad, ignored and/or slighted when I’ve tried to reveal painful truths about myself, and even mocked by a few people when they found out aspects of the “Real” me that they had felt uncomfortable with or ashamed of. And my (our) natural reaction to all this?
Hide. The lie pervades in our minds that says: Hide who you really are, and you’ll never, ever get hurt again. Hide and no one will ever know the truth about who you really are (until you die of course). Hide, and maybe people will like us better. Hide, and we will be truly loved.
The problem with this is the person we portray when we operate in hiding is a lie. No one will ever see the real you, yes, but instead of making people really love or like us, we increasingly isolate from them. Also, since the Creator hates masks, He orchestrates events in our lives to make it so that our real selves WILL be exposed little by little.
Also, if you want to be truly loved, you must be genuine; you must be vulnerable to having your heart break. C.S. Lewis, the great Christian author once said in his book The Four Loves, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I see so much pain in the world around me. So many people hiding, waiting to be found out, but also scared to death of what the reaction may be if someone else finds out who they really are inside.
The solution? God’s solution to all this? Be genuine yourself, and reward honesty and genuineness. Don’t invalidate people when they are speaking from the heart about something painful, private, or personal. Ways we invalidate people are telling them not to “feel” something, as if all of us could just switch our feelings on and off at will in an instant, mocking them or dismissing what they are telling us as “irrelevant” or “not something to be upset or otherwise feel negatively about.” Tell them instead that you are there for them, to help and support them in whatever way they need and in whatever capacity you can help them. Be willing to love and accept the person, flaws and all. However, if sin (moral wrong) is involved, gently steer them in the right direction so they can make necessary amends and/or restitution for their wrong(s). Thank them for giving you the privilege of sharing such information. If they are willing to share something deep with you, it means they have a lot of trust in you. Don’t ruin it!