FLAT ON HER BACK AND SMILING
How often do we respond, “I’m fine,” when inside we are dying? We think a smile can mask the reality of our pain. The little girl who fell off the porch and landed flat on her back knew better. Fortunately it was a low porch. Over the years we forgot the reason for her fall, but hopefully it wasn’t because my dad startled her with a makeshift ghost he resurrected from a pile of leaves with a pulley. Growing up, Halloween was fun. I have great memories of costume contests at Bud’s Roller Rink and collecting penny candy door-to-door in Lynnwood Acres. My all-time favorite costume was the old bed sheet my dad painstakingly shredded and wrapped around me head-to-toe. Strategically applied fake blood completed the not-really-gruesome mummy look. Of course that was before Halloween traditions were controversial. Back then our conservative youth group even hosted a haunted house fundraiser for their summer trip; not the scare-the-Hell-out-of-you, evangelical haunted house, nope, just a fake chainsaw-toting Frankenstein haunted house. Those were the days, times were different and that is not what this is about.
Whatever the cause, she lay on the ground and bellowed from beneath her frozen grin. Her over-sized, polka dotted collar mocked her tantrum. The permanently happy expression on the little clown’s beguiled her distress.
HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY
As she retells the incident, my mom initially feigns seriousness which quickly fades to a chuckle then melts into full blown laughter. My mother is not cold-hearted. The child was only rattled and appeared to be grinning for crying out loud. Laughter is an appropriate response to a silly grin. I wonder if that is ever true for me. Does the incongruity of my “mask” evoke the wrong response from others?
Ecclesiates 3:4, “A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” NASB
HOW ARE YOU?
How often do we respond, “I’m fine,” when inside we are dying? Anyone besides me guilty of hiding behind a smile to be strong for others. Showing weakness is quite simply a sign of weakness and I despise weakness. So I wear my happy face then people won’t recognize my struggles.
Lamentations 3:17, “My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.” HCSB
I am fiercely independent. I consider myself strong, if not physically then emotionally. Frankly, I act like I don’t need you and I don’t need God. I can do this alone and I’ll let you know if I can’t. Deep down, it is not what I believe, but it is how I act. Nevertheless, I have been convicted:
Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” HCSB
Whenever I fall, I jump up, dust off my knees and insist I am fine hoping you won’t notice the bloody scrapes on my knees. My pride needs wounding. The truth is, I do need you and we need each other. Have you ever worn a smile to hide your tears, struggles and disappointments? Have you ever felt like kicking the wall but instead plastered a fake grin across your face?
Galatians 6:2, “Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” MSG
There is a delicate balance between cocky independence and depleting neediness. Continually dumping negativity actually drives away the very people you need. I have probably never been accused of that. Not that I have figured out the balance, I am lop-sided, but I am working on it. Are you knocked flat on your back having a fit, but hiding behind a mask?
If you refuse allow others see your needs, you will not only miss a blessing, but you will also deprive someone else of a blessing. How about we take off the masks and let others help?
James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” NIV