"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.'" John 1:47 (NIV).
I read how Ray, an energetic three-year-old, liked to play being Superman. Each morning he would have his mother pin a bath towel to the back of his T-shirt and off he'd go imagining he was wearing the magic blue and red cape pretending he was Superman. In his mind he came to believe he was Superman.
Then came kindergarten. When the teacher asked Ray for his name, he replied, "Superman." Trying to hide her amusement she asked again, "I need to your real name." Again he replied in all sincerity, "Superman."
The teacher, still trying to hide her amusement, got down to Ray's level and, looking squarely into Ray's eyes, said quite firmly, "I need to know your real name. What is it?"
Little Ray looked around the room, making sure no one was listening and, leaning close to the teacher, whispered in her ear, "I'm Clark Kent."
We smile at a child's innocence and make-believe world. But in reality some of us, afraid of being known for who we truly are, have hidden behind a pretend-mask for so long that we have come to believe that the role we play is the real us. In doing so, we fail to realize that the loneliness we struggle with is caused by our living in a make-believe world, neither knowing who we are or being known for who we are. For we can only ever be loved and connected to other loving people to the degree that we are known. Masks can't be loved. Only real people can be loved.
Let's learn to be like Nathanial about whom Jesus said when he first saw him, "Here comes a man in whom there is nothing false." Or in our language, "Here comes an honest man."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to see any areas of my where I am hiding or whatever things in my life I am hiding from. Help me to be honest with myself, with you, and with at least one trusted and loving friend. Help me to be real so I can truly love and be loved. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."