The other day I saw a trailer for a documentary entitled “The Mask You Live In.” The filmmakers examine the narrow way we define masculinity in this country and the impact this has on our sons. I’ve not seen the entire documentary, but I intend to do so.
In one scene, a counselor is working with a group of high school boys. The counselor gives each young man a sheet of paper. On the front side, he asks them to write words to describe their image, the image they project to the world. And so the boys take a few minutes to write. Then the counselor has the boys flip over to the back side and to write words to describe how they feel about themselves, the person beneath the mask. He has the boys wad up the sheets of paper and throw them all in a pile on the floor. The counselor picks up the wadded up papers and reads each one aloud.
It probably comes as no surprise that the boys used similar language on the front side of their papers. Filled with the braggadocio and machismo common to teen boys, the front side of the papers were filled with words like “tough” and “fearless” and “fighter.” But the revelation came when the counselor read the information revealed on the back of the page. Under cover of anonymity, the boys used strikingly similar language to describe their “real” selves, the person beneath the mask of masculinity. “Lonely.” “Sad.” “I have no friends.” The boys were stunned to discover that they all felt the same way.
Deep down, everyone is looking to be accepted, received, and welcomed.
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. — Romans 15:7