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When Halloween is over – put up your mask

19 Nov 2015 | LT Robert Bailey; Chaplain - MCAF/HMX-1 Marine Corps Base Quantico

Halloween has once again come and gone. The remnants of the festive spirit still linger around our waists. We have now put up the decorations and replaced them with either fall or Christmas decorations to move us into another season and way of thinking. In honor of the holiday, let’s talk about the masks that we all seem to wear for either the trick-or-treating with kids, festive parties, or just the opportunity to scare others.

The word mask is defined as, “a covering for all or part of the face, worn to conceal one’s identity.” We wear them at Halloween or other events to disguise ourselves or to pretend we are someone else. For the most part, this is an enjoyable experience and done in a spirit of having fun.

The truth is that many of us have worn different types of masks in our lives. Living without a mask is a vulnerable thing to do and requires a great deal of courage. This means letting your authentic self show. When you choose to take off your mask you are opening yourself up to all sorts of hurts.

Why do we wear masks? Mostly it’s because we’re scared. Our parents, teachers, culture, society and the media provide us with acceptable ways of being. We put on a mask to be the person we think we should be when we feel that we do not meet these expectations. We believe that if we came out as our true self we may no longer be liked, loved, or well thought of, or in some cases, feel safe. This is what keeps our masks firmly in place.

We wear masks to pretend or hide a deep shame so as to give us a new identity of the person which we long to be, but have failed to live up to. Masks are used because we have been taught that “love” and acceptance are based upon performance. We can also use them to gain recognition from others and to protect ourselves from any future harm, because of past hurts. Lastly, masks are used by some for manipulation to give them a sense of power and authority over others which stems from deep seeded insecurities that have not been dealt with.

If we wear our mask for too long, we will forget that we even have it on. We will come to realize that we don’t know the person we see in the mirror. We will have forgotten who we really are apart from the mask or masks we wear. We will learn that the mask we have worn for so long became our true face, and the one underneath that we have been too afraid to show has become our true disguise. It was hidden for so long that we have even forgotten the person we once truly were, and we’ll be afraid to know who we once were ourselves.

Choose to not be in bondage and discover the freedom and joy of walking in authenticity. Your true identity is not found in wearing a mask, but in realizing the true fulfillment that can only come from embracing the person God created you to be.


Marine Corps Base Quantico