I visited with a lovely lady in hospital today and left her bedside feeling a lot lighter than I started out. She's in and out of hospital at regular intervals. Sometimes her stay will last a few weeks. I asked her didn't she get sick of hospital beds and hospital food and just the lack of freedom that her condition imposes. She replied: "Of course I do". "Then why do you always seem so bright and cheery?" I asked. What she told me brought me up short. She said that each day she reaches into her little jar of masks and always chooses the bright ones. "No one wants to hear my complaints, " she said.
That reply had me asking myself: "Would I have wanted to listen to her complain?" Probably not is the answer. I would have of course but I'm much more comfortable with her being sunny and positive.
How often do we ask people how they are not really wanting to hear the truthful response but an edited, sanitised version. How often do we give others the edited response when they ask about us? There's a lot of mask wearing going on. It takes something special to get behind all those masks. And it involves an element of risk on our part to emerge from behind the masks that we don. I wish I could love people into taking that risk.