Masks in the Church

Last week, God impressed upon my heart that the “wearing of masks” within the church has existed most of my life, only now it has become a physical, obvious phenomenon. A friend had shared this with me my first year of college in 1983. I’ve pondered it and observed people through the years. Our book Wings of Victory is a dropping of our masks. It is our hope and prayer that God will place it in the hands of people willing to let God be their Wing Maker.

So, I share with you the poem below.

Have a blessed day,

Don’t Be Fooled By Me
by Charles C. Finn

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
Masks that I’m afraid to take off
And none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
But don’t be fooled,
For God’s sake, don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
That all is sunny and unruffled with me,
Within as well as without,
That confidence is my name and coolness my game,
That the water’s calm and I’m in command
And that I need no one,
But don’t believe me.

My surface may be smooth but
My surface is my mask,
Ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
A nonchalant sophisticated façade,
To help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
My only hope, and I know it.
That is, if it is followed by acceptance,
If it is followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself
From my own self-built prison walls
From the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
Of what I can’t assure myself,
That I’m really worth something.

But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to. I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
That you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
And that you will see this and reject me.

So, I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a façade of assurance without
And a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of Masks,
And my life becomes a front.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
And nothing of what’s everything,
Of what’s crying within me.
So, when I’m going through my routine
Do not be fooled by what I’m saying,
What I’d like to be able to say,
What for survival I need to say,
But what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
But you’ve got to help me.
You’ve’ got to hold out your hand
Even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
The blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
Each time you try to understand because you really care,
My heart begins to grow wing—
Ver small wings,
But wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
You can breathe life into me
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
How you can be a creator—an honest-to-God creator—
Of the person that is me
If you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
You alone can remove my mask,
You alone can release me from the shadow-world of panic,
From my lonely prison,
If you choose to
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by,
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach me
The blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books may say about man
Often, I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
And in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
With firm hands but with gentle hands
For a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
And I am every woman you meet.

“Don’t be Fooled by Me” by Charles C. Finn

Wings of Victory (To Be Released Late 2020)

Wings of Victory: Overcoming Mental Illness as We Walk with Jesus
by Ruth and Joshua Eleos

Wings of Victory is written by Ruth and Joshua Eleos, pen names for a husband/wife team, sharing about their experience of living with a mental illness for 20+ years. Ruth has been diagnosed with bipolar and Joshua, her husband gets to live with/react to her  condition. Knowing that statistically less than 25% of such marriages last, we write to give hope and encouragement to other such Christians as well as provide perspective to those who love someone with a mental illness.

This book is unique in that we have written it as a dialog, each of us responding to what the other has written. Because of our differing perspectives, we have sought to allow each spouse to have her/his voice by writing separately. Ruth begins each chapter as she is the one with the mental illness and has determined the flow of the book. Joshua writes in response to what she has written, giving insight from a more objective viewpoint of the one loving the afflicted. Through his pastoral experience and master’s degree in Theology, Joshua brings a solid Biblical/scholarly and pastoral perspective to the situation. The first few chapters are meant to affirm the one suffering with this illness. The chapters that follow attempt to equip the reader with strategies for overcoming, and finally, we desire to challenge the readers to a higher calling than the world expects of those struggling with mental illnesses.