Pastor Blake Williams
Missions & Outreach Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
Halloween is an interesting day in America. We dress our kids up in costumes, send them to stranger’s homes to go knock on the door and ask for candy. Somehow, this is less creepy than getting it out of the back of a van with no windows. But the more interesting thing for me is that we promote being something or someone else for a day. However, this isn’t really the only day that we put on masks and pretend to be someone else is it?
Each day we get out of bed, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush our teeth and head off to work. I am the weirdo that doesn’t drink coffee but I know that’s a part of pretty much everyone else’s routine, so fit that in wherever. However, there is something else we put on each day that is not physical, nor obvious, but is there, it is the mask we wear. Think about this, if I were to walk up to you and ask: “How are you doing today?” Even in your head, you probably just answered, “I’m good” or “doing well.” But are you?
From 10 years of pastoral ministry I can tell you that the answer to that question, most
often is no, you’re not doing ok. Is this a perfect example? Absolutely not. More often than not, it’s a social platitude that we use because we don’t want to get into our lives in a short, passing conversation, nor is it the time/place to do so. However, how often do we open up to people? How often do we let people know how we’re truly doing?
I say all this, not as an expert, but as a fellow struggler in emotional openness and intimacy. Oftentimes I joke that I’m an emotional cripple with broken tear ducts. Each month I try to take a personal retreat day during which I will spend a few hours journaling. This helps me to process through the emotions attached to all the things that I’ve experienced over the past month. During these times I think about conversations I’ve had, couples I’ve counseled, guys I’m discipling, what God is trying to teach me, books that I’m reading, and what I’m supposed to do with all of it. Usually after these days I’m able to articulate where I’m at mentally, physically, and spiritually. However, this is only half the battle. I still need to share those joys and struggles with those God has put alongside me to walk this life together.
Brittany is the best friend, wife, and mother to my children that I could ever ask for. She is patient, kind, loving, and sensitive (basically all the things I’m not). I’m able to share with her the good and bad, pretty and ugly parts of my heart. When I share with her what I’m struggling with, what the Lord is teaching me, or asking for counsel, she is always there. But even beyond this incredible relationship, I’ve invested in other friendships with guys whose opinion I respect, who know me well, and who will say hard things to me if they need to be said. When these friends ask how I’m doing, they’ll get a real answer and not a programmed cliché.
I can’t stress enough the importance of finding these people in your life and cultivating
those relationships. These are the people who know the true you, and are willing to point out when that person is not on display for the world. They will pray with you through the
ups and downs, and walk alongside you as you sort them out. But these relationships aren’t easy and they aren’t always convenient. I’ve spent hours face-to- face and knee-to- knee with these friends sorting through issues, when it would’ve been a lot easier to sit at home and binge on Netflix. Many times other people’s tragedies and hardships come at times that are inconvenient in our schedules but we have to choose to value the relationship over the calendar. These small investments of time (and they are small in the grand scheme) will pay dividends many times over.
When we take the time to get to know someone and let them know us, we are experiencing freedom from wearing the mask. Ultimately our goal should be that we take that part out of our morning routine. That we wake up each day, recognizing that God made us specifically and intentionally to be us because everyone else is already taken. Walk in your gifting, walk in your uniqueness, but don’t walk alone.