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The Masks We Wear

When I was 12, I decided that it was time to find out what the “religion thing” was all about. The most spiritual thing I’d ever been involved in as far as my family was concerned, was my mom marching us down to the Transcendental Meditation center to get mantras when we were 10.

That was less about religion, and more about getting us to sit quietly for 30 minutes every day so she wouldn’t lose her mind from her daughters constantly fighting. I don’t blame her, believe me.

I had friends who were involved in their churches and temples. I was fascinated by the Catholic kids who would come to school with ash on their foreheads and their tales of what they had to give up for Lent.

I wanted to understand why the Jewish boys who lived down the street wore the funny caps on Saturdays.

And what was up with the elephant statue with the rice bowl at my Buddhist friends’ house? That was really fascinating to me, because I didn’t know a lot about the Christian religion, except for what I saw in Moses with Charlton Heston. According to that movie, worshipping false idols would get you on the fast train to hell pretty quickly.

I went to a Catholic church, a Buddhist temple, a Jewish temple, a Protestant church, and a non-denominational Christian church.

I was fairly bored out of my mind at all of them, except for the Christian church. They gave me a very cool comic book about Jesus and a pocket bible. They also seemed really excited to have me there, so I continued to go.

I enjoyed the church. Everyone was extremely kind and they were always feeding me. I even went to bible camp. They would bus us out to tent revivals sometimes, which were very exciting. There would be lots of singing and people would occasionally pass out when they were overwhelmed by the spirit of Christ.

I loved it until I started to notice a few things.

People weren’t honest. They would say that they felt one way, but they really felt another. An example would be when the pastor asked us if we listened to a certain music station. I was the only one who raised my hand, even though I knew darn well that almost every kid in that Sunday school class listened to it too.

Apparently listening to that kind of music was yet another fast train to hell. I could not understand why they would lie about it. Wasn’t a part of faith supposed to be living in truth? God said not to worship idols, but he also said not to lie.

I started to see that this fake behavior was the norm. People put on a show for each other, but it didn’t seem like there was very much spirituality going on. All I saw was lies and judgment, so eventually I stopped going to the church altogether.

Now that I’m older, I see that everyone was just afraid that they would be judged as not spiritual enough. I might have acted the same way if I had been brought up in that church. I’ve certainly put up a false front in other parts of my life.

I’ve been surprised over the years to notice that no matter what spiritual tribe you belong to, there is always at least a glimmer of this issue. In the metaphysical community that I am a part of, I see it every day. We talk about being authentic, but sometimes we fall a little short of being that ourselves.

I see healers who have health problems try to hide them, and pretend that they are the picture of vitality. There are coaches who are going through a rough patch financially, but because they specialize in helping clients solve money problems, they feel they need to put on the appearance of having wealth.

I’m not judging. We’ve all done things like this at one time or another. We behave this way because we are embarrassed of ourselves, and afraid that if people see our weaknesses, they won’t look up to us anymore.

When you live by the conditioned thoughts and beliefs of society, your family, or anybody other than yourself, then you aren’t really living by the truth. Your defining yourself by the judgments of other people and finding yourself lacking when you make the choice to put on a false front.

If you decide not to accept your situation fully and completely, and then own it by being honest about it, you’re choosing not to honor yourself. Remember that the Universe always conspires in your favor. If you hide from the truth of yourself, eventually it’s going to find you and unmask you anyway.

We aren’t here to live by someone else’s truth. We are here to find our own and gather the courage to live it. It’s not an easy road, to follow your heart and your truth, but it’s worth it.

Barbara Buck is a Foundational Reconnective Healing Practitioner, writer, and teacher. For more information about her, please visit her website at Check her out on the Happy Empaths Twitter feed @the_empath.

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