All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
(William Shakespeare’s As You Like It)
“The word “hypocrite” is an interesting word. Literally and historically it refers to “play actors;” that is, actors on a stage who changed masks to become different people. When the word is brought into the religious realm, as Jesus uses it, it becomes a negative word. When we put on masks—pretend to be people we are not—we are hypocrites.” (Tautges)
Those of us who have lived in a world of grief are often the ‘Great Pretenders’. We are not ‘hypocrites’ in the negative sense; we are ‘play actors’. We don’t feel ‘safe’ being ‘real’, being who we are. We feel the need to hide, mostly because of reactions we have received from others when we dared to be honest and straightforward with how we really feel. There are days I take on an ‘attitude’. Yes, I’m human, too. I don’t want to deal with any ‘crap’. I don’t feel like smiling. I don’t want to put on the mask. …And those days ain’t pretty. I don’t have the energy to dance the dance. Instead, I cut through the mustard ruthlessly and relentlessly without blinking an eyelash. There are days when I see a spider and “EEK!”. Other days, I take my hand and smack the living daylight out of it. I actually prefer the latter, but it is unacceptable to those around me…it’s messy.
I have a friend I met over a year ago on a grief site which removed us both for completely opposing reasons. I was removed for sharing Scripture; she was removed for her bluntness and choice of vocabulary. Whereas others perceived me as a ‘religious fanatic’, she was perceived as a wild crazy woman. For whatever reason, we seemed to take an immediate liking toward one another and have remained friends. Both of us are straightforward, but we choose different venues. Yet, we both where masks periodically. We know that many cannot handle the real ‘me’ we have inside of us. There are days when I know I am surrounded by others all wearing masks, and having a person in my life who is willing to bear face it is refreshing; it’s a stabilizer when my ship is out on a very choppy sea.
Next month will be the 24th anniversary of when the man I was married to for 24 years put a knife to my throat. Thankfully, my eldest (16 at the time) ran in and saved my life. After the ex was then permanently out of the house, myself and four children were strapped financially. Myself and the three teenage boys all went to work…and we worked hard. We were determined to survive because our lives centered around my little girl who was only three at the time. She was our motivator; if not for ourselves, for her we had to survive. She became the center of our universe. In addition to working 60-70 hours a week, I knocked on doors for whatever assistance we could get. A kind woman took up a donation for Christmas gifts for our family. One day, she turned to me as we were standing in my house chatting, and leaned into me to whisper: “Don’t tell anyone that you’re in need”. Shhh! It’s a secret. I didn’t understand ‘why’. Later, I did. Folks have ‘clicks’. One is either ‘one of them’, or they are an outsider. If you happen to be an outsider, you are often treated as ‘less than’; and by some, disdained.
I love Jesus for many reasons. Mainly because He first loved me and chose to willingly suffer and die for me. In addition, I like Him. I look at who He befriended and how He lived while on this earth as the Son of Man. He never wore any masks. He called it as He saw it every time. He was gentle and kind, yet bold and forthright. He was impeccable in the balance. He did not hesitate to confront the religious leaders of His day and boldly called them: “Hypocrites!”. He ate and drank wine with prostitutes, tax collectors, and everyday fishermen. He put on airs for no one. He reached out to the despised and rejected lepers. He healed the lame, blind, and deaf. He even raised his friend from the grave. Fearless and bold, gentle and compassionate. Yes, Jesus is my Hero in more ways than one. I’m not like Him, but I want to be. I can’t be like Him through my own strength, but I can permit Him to be Him through me. Because He is Who He is, they crucified Him.
Isaiah 53: (KJV)
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
He warned us upfront that if we choose to be like Him, we will be hated as He was hated (MT. 10:22; John 15:18). Yet, when we are, He calls us Blessed (Lk. 6:22). It doesn’t ‘feel’ that way, though. So, we resort to putting on our masks. We desire man’s acceptance over man’s rejections. We want to ‘fit in’, rather than ‘fit out’. We fear man more than we fear God.
I, for one, have chosen to take off the masks…most days. As a result, I have made myself a target of sorts. But I’m learning to find my comfort zone in it. I’m learning that the more I am attacked for not wearing my mask, the more I take comfort in the One Who went before me. I am learning to draw on His strength. I am letting Him fight more of my battles. I am finding that when someone ‘takes on’ me, they are taking on my God. Not because of who I am, but because of Who He is. I will not place my trust in man.
Psalm 20: (KJV)
7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
So, I will make a point of taking off my selection of masks that others prefer before I enter Shakespeare’s final stage. I freely give them all away to anyone who wants them. If I need to cry, I shall; if I need to yell and wail in my grief, I will. Yes, I will pray for Wisdom when I do; I won’t intentionally offend. At the same time, I won’t pussyfoot around when it comes to honesty and Truth. However, I will attempt to do so in Love (Eph. 4:15), for the Truth does set one free (John 8:32).
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728 Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/
Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))