Secrets keep you sick. An old addictions adage that rings true outside of the realm of drug or alcohol use, one we utilize in our family often. A reminder that hiding behind masks and shielding others from my real self allows shame to rule, I have taken a different road this year. I have chosen to open up about my brokenness and the outpouring of support and grace has been overwhelming. New doors, the very ones I feared would always be closed, have widened, welcomed in me. I no longer have to look for that window or side door to sneak in, I go through the front and drink coffee with everyone else. I sit at the table, I am included.
Much has been and will be written about the election and what it means for our country, what it means about our country. Ultimately, I think though that our mask has been ripped off, we have been handed the opportunity to face our brokenness. We are a hurting nation, not because of the election but because we haven’t found a way to love ourselves enough to love others. We haven’t learned to trust those we share a pew with each Sunday with our real secrets. We are afraid to be authentic, afraid to be judged. We are surrounded by hurting people, we are hurting people, and yet we keep pretending that our marriages aren’t crumbling, our children aren’t being bullied, that we aren’t afraid we about to lose our homes. If we cannot talk about our own real stuff, how can we deal with the wider truths just outside our doors? We show up each week, eat some donuts and adjust our masks. This week the veil fell away.
The good people in my mostly white congregation are scared, their children are afraid for their friends who don’t have the same color skin. The good people who may have been subjected to sexual harassment but never shared that pain are now open about fears for their daughters. Our masks are off and I am hopeful. We cannot really confront the pain of the widow, the hungry, the lost until we acknowledge we are among them. We are them. We are all sinners, we have hurt those around us by not doing enough, staying in our comfortable homes and sending money sometimes. We have not spoken up when the racist slur was hurled in our hearing. We have not spoken up in outrage as a congregation to say we do not support misogynistic views, we have not walked into African-American communities and asked how we can help. I am hopeful now we will, now we will be mobilized by the shedding of masks, the fear and worry will turn to action.
I expect big things, amazing grace, to come from this election cycle. I expect America to get real. We made a clear start when we threw off the facades that covered our true selves. We won’t be shamed any longer, our secrets are out. We are distrustful, we are scared, we don’t really like people who don’t look or worship or love like we do. Sweeping these truths under the rug, keeping these as secrets, has kept us sick. The shame is still raw, opening up to the world about our dirtiness. That’s okay, the support will come. With each outstretched hand, each honest conversation, each trip into a neighborhood to share some food, the hurt will ease. We will be better than before, we will be real. We have a chance to begin healing, ourselves and our neighbors. Now it is time to get busy and open some doors.