The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' (Luke 15:28-30)
In The Phantom of the Opera, there is a scene when the mask that covers the monstrous face of the Phantom is dramatically pulled off and exposes the hideous creature beneath the mask. A heinous, marred face of the man with divine musical talent cowers like a beaten child. Even after seeing the play five times, I always cry every time the mask is removed—and now I’ve figured out why.
Amidst a small group of women on Sunday night, I trusted them to accept me for me; ugly, pockmarked, and decrepit. As uncomfortable as it must have been to watch me remove my mask, I knew it had to be done. The bible study paused as I metaphorically sung like the Phantom my story of jealousy, envy, and conviction. I saw some eyes turn away, shift, or look down; I’m sure it was out of embarrassment for me. But I knew the person beneath the mask and she longed to be exposed.
The girl. I hated her yet wanted to be her all at the same time. I felt like the world was celebrating sin and rewarding folly by fawning over this woman. But my mask hid the Prodigal-Brother-Syndrome and I watched with envious eyes as she was being blessed. What I didn’t realize was she had removed her mask to reveal the ugliness she possessed. In doing so, she invited the world to gaze upon her brokenness and marred past. I was convicted by her humility and honesty upon hearing her story; her ugliness was somehow beautiful up close and I needed to ask for forgiveness.
As I drove home on Sunday night feeling ugly and free and accepted, I knew why I cried when the Phantom removed his mask—he wanted to feel what I felt on Sunday night: beautifully broken and accepted.