If there is one thing that I have realized over time is that EVERYTHING that I experience which I may perceive as negative, is ultimately not for my good, but for the one who will enter the same experience after me. What do I mean? When I lost my home, job, marriage, fought illnesses, struggled to raise 4 children alone, didn’t recognize depression, was homeless or simply the daily challenges of being a Black Woman in America, because of every tear I cried, I can now assist another woman in having fewer of them.
Too often we get so caught up in our own world of business that we don’t notice people sitting only inches away from us dying inside yet smiling through paralyzed emotions and tear ducts that won’t create moisture streams. She has learned to adapt to the environment. Make life seem great and without worry or distress. Women should easily earn Oscars for our innate ability to weather tornadoes as if it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside. The problem lies in the damage that is not visible on the inside. You see, we learn how to cover up with make up, hair does, work-outs, culinary dishes, clean homes, perfectly groomed children, social groups and community service projects. The mask becomes so engraved on our faces that we began to mirror its image to the point that we no longer recognize our own reflection.
But guess what happens when YOU the mask wearer sits next to another woman who has a mask of her own? That’s right! You recognize the reflection because you’ve already been there and survived. You found a way to push through when you husband looked at you and said “I no longer want this”. You remember what it was like to have to begin a new career, restore your credit not for a home but a 2 bedroom apartment to rent. You remember the agony of recovering from that relationship that was not only physically unhealthy but emotionally destructive. You can still smell the “public disorder” of filing for state supportive benefits so your children didn’t go hungry and uninsured while you figure out how you’re going to pick up the pieces and provide for them without any income. You know what it feels like to wake up after soaking your pillow with the anguish of being hurt, frustrated and confused for hours until your alarm alerts you that you haven’t slept because your eyes are too swollen to remain closed and your nasal passage is shut, making natural breathing a chore.
What do you do when you recognize her mask? My hope is that you extend your hand, share YOUR story, convey to her that if you can survive it she can too. Give her encouraging words of hope. Cover her in a simple prayer so that she is reminded that God hasn’t abandoned her. If you have a resource, connection or avenue to support her in any way – Do So! Only when we take the time to hear, recognize and support our sister, will she be able to remove her mask and extend her hand when she sees it reappear in someone else.
AMP I Thessalonians 5: 11
“Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”.