Seeing through the mask

website - southern styleBy Randall Franks

Have you ever wondered what is beyond the face someone is showing you? Is there another series of thoughts running through their head that is different than the words coming out of their mouth or the expression on their face?

There is probably not a soul on Earth that has not faced a situation where someone they respected or liked for some reason revealed himself or herself as someone other than anticipated.

In a recent small group Bible study I attended, we discussed how, in the South, it is not unusual to find someone who is so sweet and caring with an amazing ability to turn a phrase, adding “Bless their heart” to deliver a socially acceptable put down. Others will often smile or sometimes roll their eyes.

As an actor, I understand that we all have masks. We begin creating them in childhood to gain acceptance, love and friendship from our parents, friends and teachers.

We create them over time to help us succeed, allow us to get along and improve our relationships. At a certain point in life we have them for all occasions, almost like the clothes we wear. The spouse/loved-one mask, the parent mask, the close family mask, the kin but not close mask, the work mask, the club mask, the church mask, the close friend mask, the acquaintance mask, the those in the same business mask, the classmate mask and the list goes on and on.

We are so good at keeping them at hand that we can change masks in mid conversation if the social event requires it depending upon whom we are with at the time.

The thickness of the mask relates upon how much we want the people we are with to really know about us. The goal is often to have the thickest mask with strangers and with acquaintances, the thinnest, so hopefully our heart can be seen more clearly.

I have watched some of the greatest imitators of life develop and share the human condition for film and television. Watching them peel away their own mask and put on someone else’s for a role was an amazing learning process.

Watching people and their mask has given me a great insight into the underlying intentions of those I have met and come to know. I have found comfort in knowing that at least in my sphere of experience, you can generally tell when someone is earnest and honest in his or her deeds, actions and words.

I am still surprised sometimes to see beneath the mask and realize that what is underneath truly deserves to be hidden from the rest of the world. If we would see it, we would only desire to turn away.

But the neat thing is, at least from my experience, there are more good folks revealed when they remove their mask than bad folks. I pray you are one of the good folks and I hope you always use your masks to uplift and encourage others!

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers I: Finding the Light.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.)

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