By Sarah Van Diest
Here’s my Mother’s Day story for you: yesterday we were at church, the service was over and the youth band was packing up. They had done such a great job of leading worship that I wanted to congratulate them, especially Zach, the lead kid on the team.
As I hopped up the stairs to the stage, I misjudged the final step. (Yep. So, feel free to picture what was about to happen.) My toes caught the lip of the stage and a forward fall commenced. In slow motion, or lightning speed, both are fitting, I crashed head first into the side of the black grand piano; the brunt of the impact landing on my right front teeth. My head turned to the left just prior to making contact with the piano, thus saving my nose and forehead from injury.
At some point soon thereafter I found myself kneeling at Zach’s feet. His astonished face was blurry and continued to be blurry even with my attempts to fix it for him. As my head began to clear, and I realized where I was, I looked up at the piano to see what I had hit so violently. And there, on the side wall of this beautiful grand, was my face print. Make-up was slapped in one spot and smeared down the side.
And then there was something else.
As I wiped off the make-up from the shiny black surface, a white chip remained the size of a pinky fingernail. In the process of hitting and falling downward, my tooth had dug out both paint and wood from the piano leaving a tooth sized gash.
Touching my face and feeling for broken or missing teeth and blood was my next action…all was well.
Sweet Zach, though still blurry, gave me his full attention and aid. As the rest of the church began to gather, I laughed and told him that I just wanted to tell him he did a great job.
He walked me down the steps, looked at me with a huge smile and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
The following moments were spent taking pictures of both me and the piano, recapping for those unlucky enough to have missed the incident, and trying to decide if I had a concussion or not.
Today I am sore, but fine. I feel as though I spent Mother’s Day in a pinball machine, but I can imagine worse. As the jokes about such a ridiculous accident have come to mind, the one that seems the most fitting is that we have real head-banging music at our church!
But I know that as painful, both physically and emotionally, as this was, the turmoil of such public embarrassment is good for me. It’s good for all of us if we take it in the right context. This is life. It’s messy. It’s clumsy. Sometimes it’s pretty gross.
But the masks we wear most of the time are darn near perfect. We don’t want to take them off or let anyone see what’s underneath. Life has a way of stripping those masks right off. And it’s when those masks fall that we begin to see clearly.
It’s funny because I think most of us think that our masks are about how others see us, and there is truth in that, but something amazing happens to our own vision when we don’t have to look through the shaded lenses of our masks. We see others with truer eyes. And not just that, but we see them with more compassion, more understanding, more grace and more love.
Our masks act more like barriers keeping us isolated from the very connections we fear our true selves will cause us to lose. The irony is poignant and profound. Sad. But that’s why falling down on the stage and crashing into a grand piano is a good thing. You simply can’t wear a mask at a moment like that, and what you do next is the crucial part.
The mask has been ripped off your face, what do you do? Do you search for it on the ground like Harry Potter groping for his glasses, or do you leave it where it fell? If you dare leave it, if you summon the courage to let people see you without it on, you will begin to understand freedom. Freedom to love and be loved, not for the mask, but for the actual person God created.
Our Father did not fashion masks for us to wear, He made us the way He intended. We are imperfect, yes, but in our imperfection the glory of God is revealed.
So fall, trip, slip up, live life and all its absurdness. If you are brave, take your mask off even before the fall, but if not, just don’t pick it up once it gets knocked off.
- I’m coming out: I am a Universalist…sort of
- Two Rivers