No, this isn’t a post about whether you should wear a face mask into the church building or not. That’s old news.

This is instead a post about the metaphorical masks we’ve always worn – the masks that show a brave face and a well-put-together life, regardless of circumstances. The mask we wear when we answer “How are you doing?” with “Great!” – even when we are the furthest thing from great.

On a given Sunday, different men and women in the church family are struggling with strained relationships, financial concerns, besetting sin problems, worry or fear about health concerns, nervousness about upcoming work or school challenges, and any other number of difficulties. But, due to habit, a lack of time and privacy in the church foyer, pride, or whatever other reason, when asked, we all say it: “I’m doing well!”

We then go home to resume the battles on our own, despite the fact that we weren’t equipped to fight it on our own. That mask must come off if we are ever to get the help we need. Naturally, there are two steps to this process.

Let others lean on you.

Listening is a lost art. Because we all need someone to hear our problems, it takes focus and a love for others to keep from dominating conversations with stories about ourselves. But just about everybody has something they are struggling with. Many don’t have anyone they can turn to. Be willing to be that person for others, restoring the sinful (James 5:19-20), rejoicing with the rejoicing and weeping with the weeping (Romans 12:15), bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2).*

However, as difficult as it may be at times, being there for others is far easier for many of us than opening up and showing our weaknesses.

Lean on others.

The COVID experience alone has been enough to break a lot of people down. Safety concerns, financial concerns, loneliness, and the resulting depression and anxiety are weighing on a lot of us. Having been largely isolated all this time, the easiest thing to do is to keep trying to fight on our own. What we must do instead is take our masks off and let others see and share in our struggles.

We do not want to be seen as weak, even though it’s only when we accept our weakness that we can begin to be strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). For example, a drowning person who is still thrashing against the water is far harder to rescue than a person who has lost their strength. Jesus died for the helpless (Romans 5:6-8). That’s why the Gospel is such good news – we don’t have to keep trying to prove ourselves as perfect, or even “good enough.” It’s when we admit that we aren’t that we begin to move in the right direction. It’s the same reason why the Beatitudes begin with the poor in Spirit. God desires people who have foregone their pride before Him and before others. In other words, God desires unmasked people.

As long as we are wearing our prideful masks before God and others, we cannot receive their help. Yes, it’s humbling to admit to a sin problem. It’s not fun to ask for help. But others can’t bear our burdens if we won’t let go of the straps.

You don’t have to open up to anybody and everybody. Going forward during the invitation isn’t really the best way to receive help. But look for and pray for the people you can count on. When they ask you how you’re doing, answer them honestly. If they are true servants of Christ, they’ll be more than happy to lovingly help you through your struggles.

Take your mask off. You’ll be glad you did.

* As always, this comes with the caveat that you should not be the confidant for someone of the opposite sex, particularly when one or both parties are married.