Halloween always brings me joy. Whether it’s the pumpkin carving, the hot drinks, the costumes, the fall decorations, or the trick-or-treating, I love it all.
Last year my daughter had so much fun passing out candy to the kids who came to our home. It was one of those beautiful Halloween nights where we camped out in our front yard in chairs and greeted everyone who came to visit.
The kids yelled trick-or-treat while my daughter joyfully dropped candy into their buckets. There were so many costumes and so much excitement.
You know how there are those costumes that are just so good, so creative, that you can’t tell who is underneath the mask until they talk?
The costumes that keep hidden who is underneath all the layers?
We’ve all seen them, maybe we’ve made them for our kids, or worn them ourselves.
And it’s those costumes that get me thinking every year about the masks we wear not just on Halloween.
Halloween is the time where we are meant to mask ourselves.
The night where we hide our true selves.
But what of the other nights and days where we hide behind masks?
The feelings we hide?
The emotions we keep bottled up?
The way we close ourselves off from community?
There’s that great moment of surprise and anticipation when someone comes to your house trick-or-treating. You see their costume first. You don’t recognize them. And then they speak. Maybe they say hello to you and address you by your first name. Maybe they know your kids. Maybe they take off their mask and you smile back in delightful recognition.
Wouldn’t it be great if we did that other times, too?
Can we take off our masks?
Can we unveil ourselves?
Can we be who we’ve been called to be?
If Halloween was the only time we hid behind masks that would be one thing. But I believe that all too often we hide behind these unrealistic expectations which we place on ourselves. And when we can’t meet those expectations we fail to give ourselves grace. And we fail to let others into our lives as they are – messy, complicated, and beautiful.
And so we put on masks.
Masks that show we’re okay when we’re actually hanging on by just a thread.
Masks that cover our insecurity.
Masks that cover our addictions.
Masks that cover our emotions and feelings.
Halloween is just one day.
But the masks that we wear weigh us down day after day.
The masks rob us of seeing our true selves and letting others see us as we are.
Take off that mask.
Trust that you are enough.
That you are loved.
That you are perfect as God created you.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com