I was probably fourteen.
I had played guitar in a band for a year or two. My band mates, who, when you viewed us from a far made no sense.
Me, my half aboriginal best friend, our shy guitarist who we had little in common with at the time. An Indian bass player, whose brain was incredible and his work ethic meant that he was the first of us to get a degree (and an engineering degree at that) and our lead singer who has gone on to be an avid music journalist – We shared very little. Our music favourites differed widely. (Even more so now) We shared few classes in school, we shared no political or religious beliefs.
But, we shared a dream to be in a band.
We practiced three hours in a metal shed, twice a week. We played shows in youth centres, back yards, churches, schools. In hindsight, our songs weren’t that great, we didn’t really have much of a song writing chemistry, but we just enjoyed making music together. With them, I was me, the angsty teen, figuring out my maleness, my rebellion, my hatred, and my experimentation.
And so, it was with this group of people who i first drank alcohol. We would sleep over at our lead singers house, find a stranger to buy us booze, and then we would go for a walk through the night, through parks and schools.
Sometimes we had to run away from people or our own shadows.
Sometimes we would end up laying on the ground talking about things we couldn’t talk with anyone else about.
We would talk about girls and insecurities and dreams we usually wouldn’t speak out loud.
I would talk about God and how i didn’t really understand him at that point.
We would eat a lot of Doritos chips, and then we would fall asleep on the floor.
At 9am i would wake up, freak out because i felt so seedy, and sheepily wait for the knock of my fathers hand at the door.
It was time for church.
I quickly had to figure out how to look like i hadn’t roamed the streets the night before, doing things that no one at church would approve of. I was the pastors second son. I was known, and accepted, because of what i seemed to be.
The dreaded season of the two faces. I felt like, in that two hours at church, I couldn’t really be myself. I could only be he who was expected. So i sang the songs, i answered the right questions, i went to the right gatherings. But i always had those multiple faces. And none of them were real.
I had the band face,
the church face,
the parents face,
the face i had on only in darkness
and the face i had on at school
which, at its worst was a defense-mechanism inspired clowns face. If you keep them laughing, they won’t hit you.
My identity was distorted,
but only when I stopped hearing my fathers voice.
My Dad is one of the most affirming people in the world. He tells you what he likes about you, he tells you what he thinks you’re good at, he tells you when he knows other people are enjoying who you are. And my mother is like the h]Holy spirit, her mere presence is comfort and conviction in one hilarious woman.
So even though i had this awful, shame and confusion-fueled identity crises, the foundation of the maelström was unadulterated, beautiful truth-filled love.
I feel like I am one of the lucky ones, the most blessed. At the height of the faces season I was being groomed into a type of youth leader role in two different congregations, i was working with young people in high schools and i was playing in a band whose primary ministry was to young concert goers. And, behind the secure face i presented to most, lay an early twenty year old man, filled with bitterness and shame and offense, with no way to get rid of it.
Because the masks imprisoned.
Who do you go to when you feel like everyone thinks your perfect?
Who do you go to when you think everyone else is perfect?
Like a spiral of distress, the masks held me back.
My story of liberation included vulnerability in others, and security and love spoken since i was born, by my parents.
I say that to set another scene.
Find a man, committed to the church, following a God who created the world, because of logic. But in the deep recesses of this heart lay a simple question –
Why does God make evil happen?
The valley between the face of loving and serving people and the head that thinks that God is someone he is not.
The two faces, left unchecked, have the capacity to destroy the world. Because then we present to the world, a dualistic church and God, and some will see the confused side of us and relate that to Jesus Christ. We are ambassadors of Christ, how often do we misrepresent him, because we have
never actually met him.