While it’s not my favorite episode of The Next Generation, “Masks” sticks out very clearly in my mind. In the episode Data begins exhibiting different personalities because of an alien probe. Alien characters and symbols begin showing up all over the Enterprise. The episode climaxes with a showdown between Data and Picard, both wearing masks that symbolize the alien culture’s deities.
This episode sticks out in my mind because of Brent Spiner’s performance. He really captured each of the different personalities, all with varying voices and mannerisms. Spiner slipped into all of the personalities effortlessly, becoming someone different with each interaction.
And even though most of us aren’t actors, we can still slip into different personalities depending on whom we’re around.
Sometimes we all wear a mask.
We wear a mask to fit in with the people we’re around.
We wear a mask to impress others.
We wear a mask to find love and acceptance.
The problem with wearing a mask, though, is that people don’t love or accept us; they love and accept the mask.
After Adam and Eve sinned the first thing they did was cover up. They covered up who God had made them to be because they were ashamed. They covered up in order to find love and acceptance.
And we’re still doing that today.
God created us to need relationships. We need to find people who love and accept us. We don’t need to wear masks in order to find that love and acceptance, though. We need to take off our masks and find people who love and accept us for who we are.
I’m sure we all have friends with whom we can just be ourselves. Really, when it comes down to it, those are the only friends we need. Life is too short to waste time trying to impress people by wearing a mask. If someone doesn’t want to love and accept us for who we are, then we need to let those people go.
For a decade I covered up who I was because I wanted to be loved and accepted. I am a shy, introverted nerd. When I was 11 I got teased for being a shy, introverted nerd. So I decided that I was going to be loud, outgoing and hide all traces of my nerdiness. I donned a mask at 11 that I didn’t take off for 10 years.
It was exhausting wearing that mask but I was scared to take it off. I was trying to be what everyone wanted and it was killing me. Much to my surprise, though, when I took off my mask and started being myself, I still had people who loved and accepted me. And knowing that they loved and accepted me for who I was was way better than any love and acceptance I received while wearing my mask.
We weren’t created to slip in and out of different personalities at the drop of a hat. God created us to reflect his glory and shine his image. And we do that best when we’re not covering up or wearing a mask.
What helps you take the mask off?