Solution Focus for Life

Removing the Mask of Life

Objective: Identify steps to deepen meaningful relationships with others.

Author: Dr. C. Carl Wilson, DBH, LPCC

Removing the mask of life includes dropping your guard and having an open and honest relationship. Let’s dig right in and talk about the why. We wear masks for many reasons, good and bad. We wear them to hide our identity or become someone else for a while. Many of us wear masks for excellent reasons. Masks are a way to hide the pain we have experienced in life. The effect of this mask is a wall that few can penetrate. Imagine a wall as far as wide as the eye can see to your left and right. Now, imagine a wall as tall as the eye can see up and down. This is the picture of a mask we wear to avoid vulnerability. If you wear the “I’m tough” mask, you won’t have to worry about people seeing how weak and frightened you are. If you wear the mask, I’m “holy,” and no one will see how much you struggle with your walking. If you wear the mask, “I have it all together,” it is handy when you want to avoid real talk or challenging questions because of the pain, hurt, shame, guilt, and everything else that comes with living life. Another mask is the “I’m just claiming the victory.” There is even the intellectual and scholarly mask.

 The problem with this mask is that it causes you to skate rather than relate. The more you wear a mask, the more you become an expert in wearing it. The tragic part of all this is that the longer we wear masks, the more we stay hidden in a world of fear, pain, shame, guilt, etc. Masks are just easy to wear rather than get real and deal with life. 

We hesitate to admit that we are just human and that God has called us to be vulnerable with one another. This session aims to tear down the walls we have built that isolate us from having genuine, honest, and transparent relationships. Opening up and sharing oneself is never easy when someone has experienced life issues that cause them to close off from others. 

Dropping your guard is a challenging task. Many have tried, and most, if not all, have failed at some point. The demolition of the walls requires that you dismantle thembrick-by-brick. You cannot take a bulldozer or a wrecking ball to it. This type of demolition is highly discouraged because of the potential to cause more harm than help. The brick-by-brick process is tedious and time-consuming. You are encouraged to use a hammer and chisel to carefully remove one brick at a time. 

Dismantling the wall, brick-by-brick, places you on the path of learning and appreciating the values of open and honest relationships. Removing the mask of life starts with you being honest about yourself. You must be open and honest with yourself before genuinely becoming open and honest with others. The same is true when it comes to love. We must love ourselves before we can truly love someone else. This, of course, is discussed in another work. Removing the mask and getting to know the truth can be difficult and oftentimes requires an objective, unbiased second party who can reflect what they see in dropping your guard, which requires a safe person to bleed on. When times worsen, you will need someone to call on. You will need someone to share your devastation, disappointment, shame, and betrayal. Men and women both need someone with whom they can share. A healthy individual understands the value of an open and honest relationship with others. Men need men, women need women, brothers need brothers, and sisters need sisters.

Starting the process of Removing the Mask 

Your spouse should be the safest person for you to open up to and share with. At the same time, I encourage you to bleed on a good friend. I must insist that you bleed on your spouse first and foremost. Bleeding on your spouse creates and fosters intimacy. You should be able to bleed on your spouse, bearing your soul with them in a way that deepens your communication and improves the quality of your relationship. 

Dropping your guard and allowing the single, most important person in your life to share in your hurt, pain, disappointments, and losses is where the value of an open and honest relationship takes shape. You may wonder why we discuss the value of open and honest relationships in an Apostolic marriage workshop today, right? Can I tell you today that being an imposter is no way for an Apostolic Christian to live? Many, including me, have spent too much time living a life that wasn’t our own, playing a part that wasn’t written for us. We have missed opportunities and suffered from the devasting consequences for far too long. And I care too much to allow you to think you are stuck wearing your mask because you have been wearing it this way for so long. 

I know the joy and gladness of letting your guard down and being open and honest with others. I hope you can make the same discovery and experience the freedom that comes with it. What a great way to live! Let me clarify: this journey's purpose is not to parade our hurt, past, pain, and shame for all to see. However, it is so we can know and experience the value of an open and honest relationship. 

Ultimately, the goal is to create and foster an atmosphere where we can share our dreams unguardedly, improving the quality of relationships and enhancing our own. The value of an open and honest relationship is immeasurable. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) that God makes the whole body fit together. We are not designed to be alone in this world. We all need someone, and someone needs us. Revisiting the importance of dropping your guard to experience transparency in your relationship will take work. You may need to forgive someone and/or something from your past. And yes, I know that this is a big ask. 

Originally published in Pentecostal Life.