Many years ago I found myself as an actress in a mystery dinner theatre production. My character was an angry, disgruntled postal worker, and it took me some time to create this person both on paper and in my mind so she would be believable to the audience. After all, I had to make people believe I had committed the so called “murder.” This believability had to transfer beyond my lines to the live audience who were given an opportunity to ask questions in order to determine if I truly had a motive which would lead me to do such a thing.
The mask I wore throughout the rehearsals and performances became a part of me and because of some difficulties I was experiencing in my life at the time, I actually found it cathartic to vent my anger through my character. I had not intended this, nor did I even realize it until the end. It was a safe place behind my mask, pretending to be someone I was not and releasing pent up emotions through my character. However, when the heavily busy practice and production schedule was over, and the time came for the mask to come off, I was forced to take a good look in the mirror. The emotions I was masking through the busy schedule and even transferring, now had no place to hide. They stood before me in plain view, and they were a part of me, leaching onto my heart and slowly sucking the joy from my life.
“The play is done; the curtain drops,
Slow falling to the prompter’s bell
A moment yet the actor stops
And looks around to say farewell.
It is an irksome word and task:
And when he’s laughed and said his say;
He shows, as he removes the mask,
A face that’s anything but gay.” William Makepeace Thackery
I had a choice. I could either put the mask back on in another form of course and speed through my days continuing to pretend life was blissful, and I was in control, or I could face what had been exposed through the character I was playing. In removing the mask, the difficult circumstances of my life had not changed, nor had they magically disappeared. How I was feeling and dealing with these had risen to the surface once the mask was removed and life slowed down. It was time to slow down and do the hard work necessary to keep myself from replacing the “busy” mask with another time consuming task.
How often do you find yourself in this same situation? How many times do you find yourself at the threshold of your circumstances, feeling emotions you don’t want to feel, thinking thoughts you don’t want to take the time to analyze, so you get busy doing something which will distract? Before long, the busy becomes all we know, and we fail to truly know what is going on inside of us.
Human nature, combined with the fast paced life we all live can create what we think is beautiful music in our day to day life. Being busy comes naturally; we were created to be busy and productive, but anything can be taken to an extreme, especially when it is used to silence those places in our hearts which are screaming to be heard. Great courage and determination are needed to remove the mask of busyness because it is relentless to make its case for belonging. With sweet chords of accomplishment and melodies of fulfillment, it will whisper into our hearts, leading us into a false sense of control and joy, all the while, drowning out the real music our hearts long to hear.
Making a priority to remove our mask of busyness will reap incredible rewards. Although difficult at first, eventually, we will find ourselves experiencing a peace and contentment which only comes from being still. We will gain a renewed ability to read out thoughts and emotions and put them into proper context with what is going on around us. Shying away from this part of our life no longer needs to be the way in which we operate. Apart from busyness, God is able to heal the hidden places of our hearts. As we become authentic, we will no longer feel the need to hide or lose ourselves in endless motion.
Life will never stop calling for our immediate and ongoing attention, and circumstances will always present themselves in such a way that we may feel overwhelmed, anxious and want to run and hide behind our masks. However, the most healing and joyful music can only be heard when we are committed to removing the mask, allowing God to do the heart work necessary for us to be comfortable in our vulnerability and realness. Maybe the first step in removing the mask is to look at our daily agenda. Why are you so busy?