What’s behind the mask?
There’s a kind of “mask” that isn’t a physical covering, but a limitation or judgment we mentally put on ourselves and others. Praying to see beyond those unhelpful mental masks and recognize everyone’s true identity as God’s child opens the door to healing, as a young man experienced when he developed a severe eating disorder.
Let’s talk about masks. Not the ones people are wearing during the pandemic or even for Halloween, but the ones we mentally place on people.
Masks aren’t just physical coverings. Sometimes we judge how someone looks, talks, or acts – and then we see them as the person we’ve created in our minds. That’s like putting a mask on them. Too often we do it to ourselves as well.
These “masked” views of ourselves and others are a material perception that contrasts a deeper, spiritual nature we each have as God’s offspring. Referring to this material model of our lives, the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your life-work, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models” (p. 248).
Jesus was a mask-remover. He removed masks of sickness, sin, and disease – what we might call “matter model” masks – and revealed everyone’s true identity as God’s spiritual image and likeness. The result was healing of all kinds of issues. And what’s more, he said we could do this, too (see John 14:12).
When I was a teenager, I became obsessed with the idea of losing weight and developed a severe eating disorder. Many people tried to help me, but I vehemently rejected it, and my health deteriorated. The condition was eventually healed through the prayers of my mother and a Christian Science practitioner.
As I think back on that experience, I realize the thoughts I was thinking – my annoyance with those showing concern for me, and my belligerent refusal to admit that my behavior was self-destructive – were not truly my own. Even though I gave voice to them and was acting them out, they reflected a material and “imperfect model.” I had fallen for a false picture of myself. Through prayer, my identity as a spiritual and whole child of God became more fully realized, and the mask just fell away. The problem did, too.
Even when we’re wearing literal masks, each of us can make a prayerful effort to remove unhelpful mental masks from ourselves and others. When we do, we will begin to see and experience “the enduring, the good, and the true” that we really are (Science and Health, p. 261). And this is not something we’d ever want to cover up.
Some more great ideas! To read or listen to an article in the weekly Christian Science Sentinel on the value of a more spiritual perspective on government titled, “A spiritual model to guide government,” please click through to www.JSH-Online.com. There is no paywall for this content.