Scared? Take off the mask!

This week kids (and adults) will disguise themselves in masks, makeup, and costumes to celebrate Halloween.

Whether or not you relate to this end-of-October tradition, it provides an interesting lesson on fear and reality. Because theoretically it’s the one time no one can truly be tricked by appearances.

We all know that behind every frightening or creative disguise is the real person–your neighbor down the street, your child’s friend from school, your grandchild. My son was instantly transformed in his white “Morph” mask, made with a fabric that allows you to see and breathe despite appearances. But it’s easy to see that when the mask comes off or  the makeup is washed away, nothing has changed about the person behind it.

Isn’t it just as important to uncover the masks behind the issues of daily life? I often think of emotions, like anger or fear, as a bit like a Halloween mask. When a person is angry or afraid, they don’t act like themselves or even look like themselves sometimes. But when they’re peaceful again, it’s as if they’ve taken off the disguise.

Illness can be like a mask, too, covering up our typically healthy, whole, and peaceful identity. To me, that’s our true, authentic, spiritual self that really can’t ever be changed–just like Halloween makeup doesn’t permanently alter the trick-or-treater.

One aspect of this analogy is fear, which–like disease–if left untreated isn’t so healthy either. So finding solutions to dealing with it effectively is important. And since fear begins in your thinking, that’s a good place to start.

Some pretty influential people talked about this relationship:

  • In FDR’s first inaugural address, he famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
  • Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

In her recent blog, 5 Reasons Not to be Afraid Because We’ve Never Been Safer, Dr. Lissa Rankin writes, ” . . . fear itself is making us sick.” She warns of the problems of over-diagnosing and creating fear of a disease when it’s not even present. She cites for instance, “cancer-phobia”  and the endless attention on cancer screening techniques and early diagnosis.

“What drives such obsessive testing?” Dr. Rankin asks. “Fear. Yet fear and anxiety may actually increase the risk of cancer.  When was the last time your doctor screened you for cancer phobia and made recommendations for how you might reduce your fear as preventative medicine? Perhaps we must focus as much attention on becoming less afraid as we do on scheduling mammograms and colonoscopies.”

I heartily agree with Dr. Rankin. In fact, it echoes something Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “As frightened children look everywhere for the imaginary ghost, so sick humanity sees danger in every direction, and looks for relief in all ways except the right one” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 371).

The “right” solution Eddy is referring to comes from the wisdom taught in the Bible, which offers this practical advice: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4: 18).

I’m going to let Halloween be my reminder to see the person behind the mask this year. Just like my son without his Morph mask on.



  1. Dave says

    Fear is certainly a main stay for the media these days, whether it is in the news, television programing. One program that I thought made an excellent point was on an episode of a Star Trek spin off, (Voyager) where two crew members were unconscious, and through a malfunction of a computer “fear” was created, (manifested as an individual). The episode went on with fear doing unpleasant things to the crew members and others who had gotten trapped there, until the conscious crew was able to get information to the others that the answer was to no be afraid as it wasn’t real. One by one each person disappeared from this mental prison, until fear was left alone, and the story finished with the screen getting darker, until fear says…I’m afraid, and vanishes. Great lesson and story.

  2. says

    Great blog, Ingrid and so nice to see a pic of your youngest without the mask. :) And great ideas from everyone of seeing our true identity with nothing covering it. And as Virginia pointed out this applies to removing the fear of a storm raging inland on the east coast or mixing with a winter one right around my neck of the woods, or possible tsunamis in the west. When we see the calm and peace of God instead of the fear that the media and forecasters present, we’ll see that manifested in the weather too.

    • Ingrid Peschke says

      Thanks, Joanne! I’m loving how this applies directly to the storm, too. I’m getting a lot of good ideas from everyone’s comments today.

  3. Virginia McCullough says

    Thanks everybody — very helpful ideas. They help support my prayer to see calm and not storm.

  4. Sharla Allard says

    I like the mask metaphor. I’ve also begun to think of people in terms of their “wheat” instead of their “tares.” The Bible talks about both growing together until the tares are burned for fuel and the wheat is gathered up. We all have things we’d like to be better at, but nobody wants to be known for their tares. So when I’m with company I try not to think, “Oh, there’s so-and-so who’s always so pushy,” but instead look for her wheat!

  5. says

    Thank you for the lovely post, Ingrid. So glad to see the before and after mask photos of your son. I’ve found it very true that fear increases our vulnerability to disease and that removing the fear and tuning into that perfect love that is God eliminates the disease.

    At one point I was diagnosed by two doctors as having a form of skin cancer. It was a fearful time, but instead of getting medical treatment, I turned back to reliance on the Christian Science prayer that I had been raised to rely on. When I was a child I had seen good results from this prayer but had fallen away from praying in this way as a young adult.

    Within 4 days of beginning my prayer and study in Christian Science after the 2nd diagnosis the blemish that had been bleeding for 6 months dried up and fell off – revealing healthy skin. That was the end of the problem and that was over a decade ago now.

    I was so happy for that divine Love that casts out fear and heals!

    • Ingrid Peschke says

      Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Sue. That was truly a “taking off the mask” experience!