Sunday morning, I grabbed a new animal print mask on the way out of the parsonage, a happy accident that it matched my sweater. It cut off my air during church like a snorkel mask. Singing the worship songs, it sucked in and out like a blowfish with every line. I pondered going to the car to trade it for another.
I wear a mask every day at work in a dental office but do not love wearing them everywhere else. Yet, during the last year I’ve learned that masks are actually good for a few things:
1. It’s an ugly cry cover. “Way Maker” by Leeland just gets me. All the lyrics are good, but when I get to the line that says, “You are here … turning lives around,” I’m just a weepy mess. With a mask on, our sheep and guests at church won’t be scarred by the ugly crying, scary-faced me as I sing to my Father in heaven.
2. It’s a tear collector. In Psalm 56:8, David wrote that God collected his tears; my mask does the same. One of the best things about a mask on Sunday mornings is that all tears are completely soaked right into the material. You don’t even need a tissue!
3. It’s a sneeze catcher. Enough said.
4. It saves money on makeup. Wearing a mask necessitates only a half face of makeup. Just before the coronavirus pandemic I found the perfect shade of lipstick. It may last me five years.
5. It’s a disguise. When I got out of the car at Hobby Lobby with toilet paper sticking out of my clothes, no one knew it was me. (Wish I was kidding.)
6. It’s a hair hider. Since COVID, there’s no need to panic about wild chin or moustache hairs. They’re completely covered. (Speaking for a friend.)
7. Mouthguard. While the debate continues as to whether masks are effective or not, my mask certainly reminds me I need to guard my mouth, being careful what comes out of it besides germs. Several Bible verses address it perfectly:
- Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Though it seems we all mumble nowadays, am I building others up or letting the coronavirus be an excuse for being cantankerous?
- In James 3:6, the writer makes no bones about how vicious we can be: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.”
- Jesus Himself called attention to watching our words in Matthew 15:11: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
- Psalm 141:3 is a face mask verse if there ever was one: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
All in all, wearing a mask isn’t the worst thing ever, not the end of the world. I do miss seeing people smile, and I feel like I can’t understand English very well anymore. This will pass eventually, and we will have stories to tell. Until then, I’m going to keep smiling with my eyes and watching my words.