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  • Rebecca

Masks

I am a city girl who lives in a small town. A REALLY small town. Like population 3,000 people small town. Although I have worked here off and on for over 10 years as a commuter, I moved here 4 1/2 years ago and let’s just say it was a bit of a culture shock. I mean, the banks are not open on Sundays, the grocery store actually CLOSES here at 8:00 pm (found this out when I was making Christmas cookies at 9:00 pm for my son’s class Christmas party and ran out of dough), and not only is there not a Target, there is no Starbucks. That alone was traumatic for me.


And then there’s the fishbowl…. you know, the ole small-town gossip, everyone lives in a glass fishbowl syndrome? It’s actually true, although the glass can be a bit distorted sometimes when people are looking in. I will never forget when I first walked into the Dollar Store after moving here and the clerk says, “Hello Mrs. Kirk.”


Wait, what? I have no idea who you are and you KNOW MY NAME? What is happening??

I was completely freaked out. And it continued. The hellos, the stares, the whispers…. I was clearly the new girl in town. I looked different because I had come from the city, I dressed different, I talked different, I LIVED different. Now granted, this was before our little town became famous and we had tourists everywhere like it is today. When someone new came to town, EVERYONE knew. It was amazing how commuting here for work was completely different than living here. My anonymity was completely gone and I was completely uncomfortable. I remember asking my husband, “how long did you live here before you felt like you weren’t new anymore and you actually felt like you knew someone?” I walked around for the longest time seeing people, but not really seeing them. Everyone was nice, everyone said hi, everyone knew me. But not one person REALLY knew me, nor I them. And to be honest, I didn’t really want them to. I wanted to go back to the city, with my close circle of friends and family and being able to get lost in Target with my Starbucks and no one paying me any attention.


I loved Halloween as a kid. Those 70’s costumes were AWESOME. One of my favorite memories was walking into TG&Y and seeing all those boxes with the cellophane circle cut out for the masks to show through. My heart would pound with excitement seeing Cinderella, Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman….so many wonderful, beautiful choices! When I put that plastic dress and mask on, I didn’t just feel like Wonder Woman, I WAS Wonder Woman. No one could see Becky behind that mask – only the superhero I wanted to be. I was empowered. I could conquer the world…. well, at least my neighborhood.


Until one year when I broke my mask before Halloween. I was Cinderella and couldn’t wait to put my costume on and play in it. Somehow my mask got stepped on or broken, although I don’t exactly remember how, and it was unsavable. My mom tried to make me feel better by putting makeup on me and fixing my hair to make me look like Cinderella but it wasn’t the same. People could SEE ME. They would know it was me and no makeup could make them not see the real me. I was so sad. It just wasn’t the same…


Until I went out and started trick or treating. The parents began to tell me how pretty I looked at every door. Suddenly, I started perking up. With each house, I started feeling prettier and prettier until finally I was running and playing and having fun like everyone else. By the end of the night, half of my friends’ masks were off anyway and we were covered in sticky candy goodness and having the time of our life.


I know. It’s hard to take the mask off. You risk being different. You risk being rejected. You risk people KNOWING you. But you also miss the ones who will tell you how beautiful you are, just as you are. The ones who will encourage you, the ones who see you and think who you really are is so much better than the mask you were wearing. And the ones who love you better without the mask? Those are YOUR PEOPLE. They are the ones who will love you and always be there for you; the ones who will carry you when you can’t even walk. Want to find them? Take off the mask and leave it off. Be vulnerable. Jump out there and be the first one to be real. The benefits of being who you were created to be always outweigh the risks. And who knows? You just might give someone else the courage to take off their mask too.


“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ “ ~Genesis 16:13

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