All of us have various roles we play in our day to day lives; parent, child, friend, spouse, coworker and family member. All these roles require different things from us so how do we handle these battling priorities? In good times it is certainly easier to juggle the load but what do we do with them when something in our life goes wrong? So often in good or bad times; though it seems to be even more so in bad, we can slip behind a mask of “I’m okay”. Perhaps it’s not that we even intend to put on a mask we are just trying to get through whatever difficulty has occurred. We often don the mask because we are overwhelmed, or because we worry what others will think or even because we just don’t know where to start. We could even think that hiding behind the mask is easier. We may tell ourselves no one wants to be bothered. The truth is no one can always live behind a smiling mask. Life is hard and circumstances are always coming up to challenge us. Recently a friend publicly shared a testimony about a life challenge that was very personal because her heart was to help and encourage someone else. I was so blown away by her grace in sharing and her heart to help. It made me think about a time in my own life where I very much lived behind a mask, putting forth the image that everything was great all the while I was grieving the loss of someone I loved. In looking back at that time I cannot even count the number of times people asked me how I was doing and I answered “good”. They weren’t aware of my loss and therefore had no reason to doubt my answer so this went on for some time. I wanted others to see God’s love, joy and victory in my life and that is why I wore the strong facade but inside I was anything but strong. In hindsight I have seen how wrong I was and how in keeping my struggle hidden I took glory away from God. You see He is not just loving when we are happy. He is not just present on the mountaintop. He is not just pleased when we “have it all together .” He loves us always even when we feel our most unlovable. When we rant and cry and grieve. He is pleased with us because we are His not because we measure up to some faulty notion. He doesn’t love us for our mask, He loves us when we are in the midst of hardship, sadness, anger and disappointment. He loves us in the middle of these times and He loves us all the way through them. The next time someone asks how you are be daring enough to be real, ask for prayer, a listening ear or a hug and refuse to live masked by a smiling facade. Allow God to meet you, minister to you and use your testimony to help someone else along the way.