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  • Katie Smith

Masked in love



Sitting in the the stands at a seven year old baseball playoff game, I was struck by the "Jekyll and Hyde" performance of one outspoken family. Mom, dad, three little brothers (including an infant), grandma, grandpa, and a possible aunt and uncle were all present for one little boy's team sport.


The large and loud presence of this family echoed that of an elephant stampede, yet something was definitely off kilter and off-putting about their cackles and cries, reminding us all that it was indeed Halloween. The worst part about their display of sportsmanship (and those effects on the little boys) was the sudden change in their tone and appearance when my little boys stammered through their grumbles to get to the nearby playground.


"What sweet little ones. You have four boys just like us!" A friendly conversation ensued around our family commonalities, but the second I stopped speaking their attention turned to the scoreboard and a darkness appeared over their furrowed brows. It felt like two people were burrowed into their hearts.


I remember, once upon a time, both myself and my husband being those people (maybe not to that extent) who could put our costume masks on and off in any given environment. I was guilty of people-pleasing and could change my mind and tone to fit the comfort of those in my presence. It feels easier in a moment to change your behavior to fit your current fancy or your current friends than to walk without a mask at all times. However, such hypocrisy will soon distort your own image making you unrecognizable in the mirror.


The gospel writer, Paul, encouraged the people of Rome to dispel their Jekyll and Hyde approach to life because Christ cannot be concealed or fooled. "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness [those deeds done in darkness behind masks or closed doors] and put on the armor of light... Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 13:12, 14)


When you are a new "creature in Christ," you can't chameleon your colors any longer because they shine a brilliant crystal clear in every circumstance due to the intensity of His light within you. Writer Marshall Segal recently wrote about the benefits of our current divisive days as it has given way to an opportunity to discern and love simultaneously.


Segal says that love that is not discerning has "an allergy to hard questions and a sweet tooth for the approval of others" (DesiringGod.org) While at the same time, discernment without love teeters on investigative callousness. "While debates rage and kingdoms totter and viruses spread, we do not need aloof analysis or cynical speculation" (DesiringGod.org) Separated, both attributes falter, but married together, they provide what Philippians 1:9-10 encourages, "that love may abound in knowledge and discernment, so that you will be able to discern what is right, pure, and blameless."


There are many occasions to blurt out our opinions for or against something today. There are questions about healthcare, politics, justice, and education, but if we are not abounding in our wisdom and given a Holy light to discern what is best in love, we will continue to grumble against each other with and without a mask covering our image.


As we walked the streets in the darkness of Halloween, we still brought light with us, both literally and figuratively. My prayer is that in the darker days, you'll know that light that shines brighter than the darkest night, and that you'll take off that which hinders you from growing in love for others. Trust, the "night is nearly over; the day is almost here."


~Carefully and Carlessley Masked




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