Please See Beyond The Mask: Both Literally and Figuratively

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A piece of cloth, a muzzle, a sign of love and caring for your fellow man, a loss of identity, a liberal placard, a sign of being unable to think on your own, a symbol of a fearful heart, a visible agreement with science, a sign that I am either approachable or not… a tool for an enemy to classify and divide.

It is so interesting what strong feelings a piece of cloth smaller than the size of a piece of paper can invoke within the hearts of so many of us.

“Ugh. Every time I see you in that mask…(insert qualifying comment here: I cannot breathe. It makes me angry. I want to rip it off your face.)”, whether spoken out loud or not, your voice is clearly heard. And my heart, though wanting to be offended I cannot.

I can only look at the you that I have always seen and say, “Look at my eyes. For real, simply adjust your sightline up and see my eyes.”

For if you only bought the smile I always wore, you missed the lifetime journey of hope, inspiration, and faith within difficulties that are written so fully in my eyes.

These are the same eyes that saw beyond your public smile and called you later in the day to ask you what was really going on in your world. These are the same eyes that caught the vision and dream you had of a better life for you and your children when everything else was pointing to continued heartache. These are the same eyes that saw the invisible teen, senior citizen, and Mom struggling to keep up the appearances of belonging and being ok. These are the same eyes that scan the grocery store for that person that needs to hear a loving voice penetrate their current situation and this is the same voice that God uses to carry His love to them when they feel like they are drowning in so much uncertainty.

It has been a long time since I gauged the world by the lower part of their face. It has always been their eyes that I search. This year has given the rest of the world an opportunity to truly look into the eyes of their fellow man and see beyond the facade. Yet for some of us, we are missing this powerful time of connection. We are still reading people by the lower part of their faces and instead of seeing a smile or a frown we see a symbol of friend or foe.

Years ago, I learned that a good read of whether I was holding bitterness and unforgiveness was whether my stomach tightened or a deep irritation filled me when I thought or saw a person. Another sign was whether or not I would make eye contact with them. If I was hurt or offended the person wasn’t granted access to me… through my eyes, those very eyes I just described. Usually, for me internal offense and bitterness is a sign of theft, a person took something from me without my permission; my dignity, my trust, my hope, or my peace. Sometimes the actions were blatant, overt enough for everyone but the person to see. Sometimes they were misunderstandings, based on my own past experiences tainting and convincing me of intentions of harm that were never intended as such. No matter the reason or validity of the perceived disregard and lack of love for me, God always talked to me about me.

You see, I have three children, who lived and felt things passionately. They did not always agree. At times they became intensely angry; one over a slight against them and the other in defense of their belief in what looked right from their perspective. When I had to become involved I always separated them. I would go to each one individually. As I would talk to them about their behavior they would quickly rise up in challenge by listing the grievances over what their sibling had done to cause them to react in the way they did. They called out for me to see the justification of their actions.

My answer?

“I am here to talk to you, about you and about how you feel.”

Those eyes again. Mine into theirs, allowing their real need to be spoken through the myriad of noise.

I saw the pain that was hurting them and though their sibling could mutter, “I’m sorry.” Though I could validate them with, “Yes, Sweetheart, you are right and they are wrong.”, they held the key to their own peace

If they could only see that the feelings they felt so deeply, bore a truth of their need to feel safe within a relationship, within their home, within their choices and actions that they felt deeply about. So when I hear a friend say, “Ugh.”, in regards to a mask whether on or off someone’s face I hear an internal pain of not feeling safe in this current world. I hear a cry of a desire for what existed before where they could manage their own world, chaotic or not. I hear the grief of loss. I hear a need to be held and told that it will become better and hope does exist. But it is hard to receive that hope as we are all busy listing the grievances of our siblings in this world…

So when I feel anger, bitterness, and frustration, I have to stop. I have to be separated and listen as my Heavenly Father talks to me… about me. Because He has equipped me with the power to forgive and weep and feel loved again, no matter how my other siblings on this planet act. He has given me the freedom to be healed… and it is found when my eyes finally meet His.

This mask is not my voice. This mask is not me.
I am found within my eyes… and thankfully Our Father God sees that.

I love you.

Jen