Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Behind the Mask

A friend reminded me recently that what I endorse is connected to other things. Things, perhaps, that I would not wish to endorse. She understands the difference between accepting the truth found in something and accepting everything else. But it is with that thought in my mind that I comment on this latest book I read, Behind the Mask: Adolescents in Hiding by Dennis Rozema.

Dennis is an adolescent therapist and crisis counselor and he has a ton of stories to share. In this book, he shares mostly about the stories that are still in the midst of struggle. He discusses teens who, like most of us, wear masks to protect themselves from the realities they don’t want to face.

You might not want to face it either. This book could probably be given the same disclaimer that we give the Bible. It’s full of truth, but not everything on the page sis pretty to look at. Dennis shares from the pages of journals of teens he has worked with, with permission of course. And since these teens are in the midst of struggle, what they write about, and the adjectives they use to describe it, are not exactly family friendly.

If it sounds like I am trying not to fall of this balancing wire to the side of appearing prudish, allow me to pull off the mask. While I do believe that many who sit in church pews need to be exposed to what a hurting world actually looks like, I fear the message may be lost because of all the debris. It seemed, at times, that Dennis enjoyed including the most graphic of journal pages.

From what I have read and learned about the counseling process, the steps and solutions this book offers are solid, with one caveat. The book lacks any mention of God, aside from a mention of higher powers. Since I am coming from the perspective of a youth pastor who would use this, I would be wary of handing this to any hurting teen or family, praying that it would lead them to true, lasting hope, which can only be found in Jesus Christ.

After all, if we are going to encourage people to remove their masks, it should be so they can see clearly into the face of the One who created them.

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