|Photo Credit: Josh Mckenzie|
I checked in for my hair appointment and was told my hairstylist was running late. I sat down in the waiting area, my mind filling with thoughts of how the day had gone so far. It had been a hard emotional day and I had no desire to be around anyone. I was in no mood to make polite small talk but knew if I canceled my appointment it would take at least a month to get back in. So I waited. I was determined once I sat in that chair, I would close my eyes and tune out the world. That was my plan anyway.
My hairstylist finished up her client and quickly cleaned up her station. She hurried over to me apologizing for being late. I muttered, "That’s okay," and followed her to her station. I sat in the chair, and she briskly flipped the cape around my shoulders asking me how I wanted my hair cut. I started to answer but her reflection in the mirror caught my attention. I stopped mid-sentence and said, "You look beautiful today."
As I spoke she stopped her flurry of activity. Her eyes meet mine and started to well up with tears. She said, "Thank you. You have no idea how much that means to me. It has been an extremely difficult week. I just wanted to feel better, so I got up extra early to make myself look presentable. I figured if I looked okay maybe I would feel better."
I have known her for a few years and knew she had three small boys all with some challenging issues. I asked her a few questions about her boys, then did a lot of listening. She finished my hair, I stood up to leave and gave her a big hug! I told her I understood the feeling of being overwhelmed and reassured her, she was doing a great job with her boys!
When I think about it, I have no idea why those words came out of my mouth. After all, I was planning on tuning out the world. But God had other plans. He knew she needed some encouragement, someone who would listen.
In a way, my plan did work out. I wasn’t going to talk, right? Well, I didn't do much talking, just a lot of listening. In that moment all she needed was an understanding ear.
I wonder how often we do that. We put on a "happy face", when we are miserable on the inside. We go to the extreme to make everything look good like we have it all together while all the time hiding our true feelings.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with caring about your appearance. There are those days, even though we may not feel like it, making that extra effort does help us to feel somewhat better. Especially when we may be in the depth of depression.
However, it goes beyond physical appearances. I'm thinking about when we are constantly using extra energy hiding behind the mask of "everything is great". The mask of perfection. The perfect family, job, house, clothes, hairstyle, marriage, etc. If we look and act like we have it all together then maybe no one will ask questions. We try to fool others and even ourselves into thinking if everything on the outside looks good, then everything must really be okay.
We are afraid of what people might think if they really knew what was going on. But keeping up this pretense is exhausting! We are using energy that we really can’t afford to keep others from truly seeing behind the mask.
I know it is hard to let that guard down, and not everyone can be trusted to protect your heart. Yet sometimes we need to take that chance. Do you have a friend or two that you will allow to see what you are hiding?
Likewise, I think we are all able to be that friend to someone else. It does take time, time for them to see you really do care and can be trusted. You can start but just being available, asking a few simple questions and really listening.
Taking the time to see what others are going through and to offer them encouragement may be just what we need as well. By helping others, we might find the courage to drop our mask and let them in.
Be the kind of friend that goes to the hard places behind the mask. Offering encouragement, hope and a new perspective. Life is hard. We aren't meant to do it alone!
Thank you for always being with us. Bring those trusted friends into our lives that we will feel safe in sharing with. Help us to offer up that same safe place for them to be open. Enable us to offer encouragement and strength for each other.
In Jesus name