Our smiles mask the pain we artfully cover up, thinking that positive imagery will best show God’s joy and love.

That false truth that being the ever-happy good Christian requires us to always smile, always spread cheer, and never let them see us sweat.

In our humanness we stumble about our daily lives, careful to reveal only the best parts of ourselves, seeking those nods of approval, those “likes” and “follows” and invitations to events where we play our assigned quietly-compliant part among gathered guests.

As we drift past each other we offer the smile and nod and those placated greetings, “I’m fine. And you?”

Our lines are well memorized for they have been rehearsed in true zombie fashion.

Grunt and nod.

The nod reveals our capitulation to alikeness and our willingness to remain hidden behind the nod. Rightly keeping those ugly realities that weigh us down with pain nicely hidden behind the gently upturned chin.

The puppet show is in full swing, play your part.

Go along, hide the sorrow, the ache, the desire to connect on a deeper level.

In actuality the meaningless nod carries more meaning than we really want to admit.




Or not.

Have you ever just wanted to rip the world off of its axis and, in one of those “oh so proper” placating moments, write a new script?

And scream?

In your mind’s eye, have you imagined it?

Yeah, me too.

Throw caution, and conformity to the wind, break the expected mood of solace, look someone in the eye and say, “I am hurting and I need help.”

That is authenticity.

Authenticity is where “love thy neighbor” has the capacity to spring to action and the zombie finds life … life giving, life sharing, life on life, life!

Do you dare?

Go ahead … scream!

Challenge: Are you aching for true, authentic relationship? Might it be you that needs to make the first move towards your Christian brothers and sisters? Go ahead, break the mold and create authenticity where you gather.

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  1. Julie McGrath says:

    Truthful words…I’m so thankful to be able to share my heart honestly with a few…God didnt make us cookie cutter Christians – our stories and our human brokenness is what really connects us. Thank God, truly, for the Hope of Jesus and heaven. Without Him being my hiding place and without the realness of my sweet marriage and a community of few close friends (who really know my good and my yuck), I don’t know how I would get up in the morning!

    1. I too have a couple of friends who are my sounding board and accountability when my actions or mood does turn south. To remind me that deep unending joy comes from spending time with my Lord not from my circumstances…….

      1. Julie McGrath says:

        I agree Christy. I need friends who will listen and commiserate and then point me toward the Lord and His Word with my deep needs. I love the saying “a true friend pushes you closer to the heart of God.” I hope I’m a friend like that.

  2. Wow…. this brought me to tears this morning. Makes me realize this is who I am in my daily life and this is not good. Thank you.

  3. Tracy, you are right on here, as usual you are on the heartbeat of women.!

  4. Now that I have 3 kids and am, I am less desirous of wearing this mask. It’s just too much work! I did answer honestly not once, but twice to a church friend who asked what she could do to help me, that what I needed was her friendship. She was looking for something to DO but I wanted her heart, hear listening ears, her time. Sadly, I guess this wasn’t what she was looking for or was too costly, or something, because our friendship has waned through this time. I try not to fault her as “DO” is pushed in our church instead of “BE” but it hurts to see a friendship dissolve…hopefully it is a season? I don’t know.

  5. This is a touchy subject for me. Trust me no one wants to hear the truth. I tried that for a while. When people say “Hi, how are you today?” and you tell them the truth instead of just “Good” or “Oh, fine” it turns people off. They don’t know what to do! Just say you’re good and go on with it.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this article! Yes, it’s sad that in passing we give each other little time to be honest! And sometimes we wear happy masks and share with no one our struggles. Galations 6:1-2 implores us Believers’ 1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” … In my poetry devotional I address this and similar issues. —> S2 – #6 Lift up your Countenance!: S2 – #6 Lift up your Countenance! Subscribe and be blessed!

  7. Wow, Tracey, this may be one of the best things I’ve ever read. So beautiful but so convicting. Sometimes I think I’m doing what I should by putting on a happy face. Thank you for challenging us to pursue authenticity!

  8. Still…I do this alone. Reaching out with no one to take my hand. Expressing the desire for friendship locally to have them draw back.

    I don’t give up. The right friendship(s) haven’t come along yet.

  9. Some of us are raised to be good little Christian zombies. I have finally learned that I must mask my feelings with my mother. If I tell her about something sad, or disappointing, or just really bad, she explains how it really isn’t so bad and after all you have other things to be thankful for. I almost never get a “yeah, that’s really hard,” from her. But if I talk about something good, or even if life is just going along fine, she constantly finds something to be critical about, or to suggest ways that this good could and should be better. So I really can’t rejoice in what is good either. Fortunately, I haven’t let this define my life. I have found people to be real around. But around my mother, I am a zombie. She doesn’t like it, and even commented recently that I don’t talk to her much anymore. What she doesn’t realize is that she created the zombie she doesn’t like to be around!

  10. So true, Tracy. I’ve found that when I’m willing to be “real,” it gives others the courage to do likewise. It takes time and being willing to get involved when we offer a listening ear to others who are hurting. Maybe that’s one of the reasons, we sometimes hold back from both roles. Worrying that we’ll be judged or feeling too busy to come along side someone who may need us for more than that moment. But help for the broken-heart is part of the Good News! While we need wisdom as to who we should confide in, it can lead to beautiful friendships.

  11. So true! Sometimes we’re afraid we’ll be judged if we bare our souls, but I’ve found it often gives someone else permission to do the same. That’s part of the Good News. I think we’re sometimes reluctant to get involved because it may take more than that moment, but I’ve actually found some of my deepest friendship emerge from sharing one another’s deepest pain.

  12. Yes I have felt this way too! And it is a leap of faith to speak up – but over the last 6 months I have become bold with friends, family, medical professionals, teachers and fellow church members and leaders. I’m going through a journey with breast cancer, who knew at 53 I would find my voice! And it’s taught me, no matter what we face, and we have no control over any of it, only God does, he is with us every step of the way.

    So speak up and speak out – you might shake someone out of their comfort zone and shake them up in the process! As my niece told me, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Loved your post – and yes, sometimes all we really want to do is scream!!! We are human! With love from fellow Mom-Travelor!

  13. This is so good- I really struggle with authenticity mainly because I’m probably more scared of not being heard or rejected when I’m truly honest about how much I have on my plate. It isn’t easy being a mom of three boys and a foster daughter while having a chronic illness and I’m truly thankful for my friends who are so encouraging. It really is the judgment that we get that bugs me when we open up to the wrong people. I mean, haven’t we all received grace? I just wrote a post about it (concerning birth parents) on my blog, The Proverbs 31 Project at Thanks so much for sharing this message about being authentic!