"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasures." Ecclesiastes 7:4
My sarcastic Facebook status from yesterday read:
"On the cover of People Magazine: Zac Efron's Shocking Drug Crisis. Hmm. A young Hollywood star with a drug crisis. That IS shocking."
I don't know Zac Efron. Nor do I know anyone else in Hollywood save for one guy I knew from my youth group days who I've seen in multiple commercials and one bit part on a TV show.
I don't want to say that this is true for all of Hollywood but I often wonder if those who choose a career playing roles in front of a worldwide audience enjoy wearing the mask of playing someone else. Of being someone other than themselves. Kind of like an escape. A chance to be someone else. A chance to be seen and noticed. I wonder about their lives before they became big stars. Did they struggle with not being seen and heard? Were they made to feel shameful for who they were? Did they suffer abuse or neglect? Did they have perfectionistic expectations placed on them they that could never live up to? If so, the rampant drug crisis' in Hollywood is not so much of a shocker. Aside from the lifestyle of parties and high life, maybe many of them partake as another means to feel better. To escape some type of shame they feel inside.
I've felt shame inside. It doesn't feel good. And I'm sort of a perfectionist in some areas. I've worn masks. Mine is a smiley face mask. The nothing's wrong, everything's okay mask. I've also known the pain associated with wearing a mask. The forever clenched teeth. The constant tension in my neck and shoulders which almost seems kind of symbolic because I often feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. The inflammation in my esophagus and stomach from the fight or flight chemicals released in my body when I have an anxiety attack.
I think as long as we continue to wear the mask, we will continue to suffer. It's time to remove the mask. It's time to deal with the issues that bother us internally that we refuse to let out. The longer you wear the mask and keep it all inside, the more it's just going to build up. It has to come out. We can't live with that build up. It will come out in some way. Maybe it's through physical illness. Maybe it's through angry outbursts or yelling at the kids or loved ones over something seemingly insignificant. Or maybe it's in some other way. You can voluntarily remove the mask and let it out, or it will come out some way possibly when you least expect it. And it may not be pretty.
Philippians 4: 6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." [emphasis mine].
God doesn't want us to hold it all in. He wants us to let it out in a healthy way. To lay down our burdens. Does keeping it all inside feel like freedom? No! It feels like bondage and it keeps building up and building up until AHHHHHH! I'm having a panic attack. As Christians, we are no longer in bondage so we shouldn't live as if we are.
"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8: 1-2
So the verse I chose at the beginning might seem kind of strange. "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Ecclesiastes 7:4
I chose that for two reasons. One, because I just read it this morning. We're studying Ecclesiastes in Sunday School so I figured it fitting to read during the week. It's interesting because my Bible next to my bed is an NIV but my church Bible is a KJV. I actually learn more depth from the KJV but I enjoy reading both versions and hearing the differences in the way they are written in each.
The second reason I chose it is because it made me think. It sounds like a dark verse. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning? But alas, it made me think of one of my recent favorite verses... "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4 Mourning brings comfort. In order to mourn, you have to let out the things that are building up inside. Freedom from the bondage inside.
So how do you do that? I do a few things. I really like to write. I keep a journal and I write down all of my thoughts and fears in there. Stuff I might be too afraid to say publicly but can say privately in the solitude of my own house, just me and God. I pray better in my journal through writing than I do in my head. It helps me focus when I'm writing rather than my mind wandering. I've also started going back to see the counselor I used to see 6 years ago when I was going through separation and divorce. I feel comfortable with her and it feels good to not only write my thoughts down, but to be able to express them with someone who understands and will not judge me for the way I feel. She is a Christian and always offers a great Biblical perspective and prays with me from the heart each time. I also do puzzles. It helps me to feel calm. I like to sit outside in my car sometimes at lunch time in a shady area with the windows down and just relax and listen to nature. Some people paint. Others exercise. There are many things.
Take off the mask. Lay it at the foot of the Cross. Talk to God about what you are feeling. Pray that He would bring others along side you who understand what you're going through to love and support you. And maybe a hobby. Don't be ashamed to take medication for a season. Your body does crazy things when you wear a mask and sometimes you may need something to help adjust the chemical imbalance that's happening inside because of it. It's not all like a magic potion or anything. I'm still afflicted. But working through it because I'm trying to peel off the mask.
I think this is the piece that is often times missing in a lot of Hollywood. The mask of being someone else only works for so long. When you don't know the Prince of Peace, you then have to look for other ways to feel better and that will only work for a time until you get used to it and have to move onto something else. If you don't know the Prince of Peace, please click on the link above that says "Heaven" to learn more. Philippians 2:14 says that "He himself is our peace," referring to Jesus Christ. You may find temporary relief other places but He is the only way to find lasting peace. I doesn't mean you won't suffer. You will. But you will also be comforted in ways you would never be able to experience without Him.
This morning I prayed for Zac Efron. It felt weird, kinda. Because he's a big famous star... almost not even like a real person just an image on the screen. But he is a real person. With real issues.
What mask are you wearing?