So, as a number of my blogging friends are today writing their rather varied and amusing reports/thoughts/scathing comments on Halloween, I couldn’t resist at least mentioning it at the start of today’s blog.
I don’t like Halloween. Sorry for those people who are particularly avid fans… I just can’t help it.
I don’t like the whole get-our-kids-to-dress-up-as-something-really-grusome-and-nasty concept. I don’t like the teach-our-kids-to-blackmail-their-neighbours-into-giving-them-sweets idea. And whilst I do kind of understand the old notion of celebrating saints and martyrs who lived wonderfully inspiring lives… I guess I’d just rather focus on the God who is alive, the reason for life and salvation, and still reigning and in control.
I’m not a spoil-sport. I do love a good party. I just don’t particularly like Halloween.
I do however, like fancy dress. The more wacky, the better.
This might stem from the fact, that I ultimately and in my daily-every-day-life, quite like clashing clothes, bright colours and weird accessories.
And fake glasses.
Are you still with me? We’re on a kind of random train-ride-of-Peta’s-thoughts today…
Confession time: I often wear fake glasses.
Now, they don’t look fake. They look real. Because they’re actually Ray-ban frames that cost me quite a lot of money. Some people would say that’s a waste because I don’t need them. I would argue that it’s not because I do wear them. A lot.
Now, let me explain.
I am blessed with perfect eyesight. And I am very thankful for this. But, underneath that visionary-wonder, I have always secretly wanted to wear glasses. When I was about 6 years old I tried to throw an eye-test so that I could have some of my own… The optician saw straight through me (no pun intended), but ever since then, I have always had this not-so-secret desire to wear specs.
At 26 I gave up waiting for my eyesight to detoriate of it’s own accord, and just went and brought some frames myself.
It opened up whole new fashion-potential to me.
Because, I just quite like wearing glasses sometimes.
And today, as I have been seeing the array of weird-and-wonderful-fancy-dress outfits my young people have been parading into the office in, and as I have been suggesting costume ideas for ‘alternative’ Disney-themed-parties, and as I have been thinking about my own enjoyment of expressing myself in what I wear and why I wear it… I guess it also got me thinking a little more seriously about how we sometimes, for many different reasons, end up wearing a mask, or something external, that we weren’t meant to wear.
I was recently clearing out some old files on my computer, and I found a friend’s testimony. This is from when they were about 18. They had written this out for me after becoming a Christian, but I think it shows something of the battle that was going on as we had talked about the realities of being, well… real… And it moved me again as I read it.
Do you ever have one of those days where nothing happens? I mean, anything could have happened. You could have become the Emperor of China; but nothing happened, because nothing seems real. I’m not talking about that cosy Disney crap either. I mean when everything seems odd and disjointed, and you can see other people living and enjoying themselves, but somehow you’re not one of them. You don’t exist. Or maybe they don’t exist, and you’re the only thing that exists in the universe, never mind life on Mars. Is there even someone living next door? Do you know what I mean? One of those days where nothing happens because you can’t feel it happening. You’re dead inside. I have them all the time. You wouldn’t know it to look at me though. I’ve developed the perfect mask. I know when to laugh and when to smile and when to cry, but it’s still just a mask, an act. The thing that keeps me awake at night though, the thing that chills me as I stare out at the night sky; 4am when I could really be the only person in the universe; is, what if no one ever sees through the mask? Don’t get me wrong, I’d hate for everyone to realise I don’t belong and treat me like the freak that I am, but what if this is all there is for me. A tomorrow where I pretend to laugh, and pretend to cry, and pretend to live. Most of the time I’d hate for anyone to see the real me, but on those mornings where I’m the only person in existence, I wonder, are there other people out there like me? In their own little universe, staring out of a window. And I wonder, is the reason no one will ever see beyond my mask because everyone else is too busy pretending as well.
It started like any other day. Went into college, hung around with the guys, and then it happened. Someone saw through the mask. “You wear a lot of masks don’t you?” One little statement and everything crashed. For one moment the earth stopped spinning, the world held its breath and then almost as quickly everything started again. “What makes you say that?” calm, collected, don’t let her see the real you. If she sees the real you she won’t like you, but worse, she’ll tell people, show people the truth and cracks will appear, and they’ll get bigger and bigger, and then my mask will shatter and leave me unprotected. I want my mask! Don’t you dare take it away from me like this, how could you, how can you see that deep? Stop it now! It never stops. We talk and I hate her more than I’ve ever hated anyone, but I love her so completely I’m nearly choking on the emotion. She won’t stop, won’t let me rebuild the mask, she keeps chipping away at it. The time comes, we part and it’s all over. My mask’s still there but for some reason it doesn’t feel as comforting as it did before. It feels tighter and rubs in places it didn’t; it doesn’t quite fit.
It changes everything. In that one split second the entire universe, and more, tilts. And what’s more you can feel it, feel it change in some indefinable way from the old into some bright new form. You revel in the newness, the joy, the love – wondering how you’ve never noticed it before. The world is different for anywhere from 5 minutes to five weeks, sometimes longer. Then you realise that the world hasn’t changed, it’s still as sad and painful and empty as it was before; perhaps even worse because you’ve seen the other option, the world raised high instead of falling into disrepair. But the great thing is that though the world is the same you’re not. The light and love and peace has rebuilt, recharged and repaired you. Now you shine with the love overflowing from your every pore and reach out to touch people, to try and show them how everything can change. I don’t need my mask anymore.
I love that Jesus frees people. That He uses weak people like us, sinners, like us, but those that He has freed… to free others.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m going to keep wearing my Raybans. I’m sure when I hit my 30s my eyesight will eventually need a little support and I might actually have to get real lenses in them anyway… But you know, there’s also a more serious challenge. To look below the surface of the face that people show you, to take the time to look into someone’s eyes and see their heart, to take our own masks down so that we can see clearly and vulnerably into the life of another.
To love. Deeply. Truly. Sacrificially. In the way we are called to.
And tonight, when I am probably trick-or-treated for the 50th time… I guess I have to keep in mind, that under every grusome mask, there is probably a real mask. And those masks; they only come down with love. His love. Expressed through my love.
Oh, and here’s me rocking my fake glasses. Yep. I am truly a geek.