Have you ever been friends with an outcast? 

When I was seventeen my social circle consisted of the youth group at my church. I grew up in a small town so we had basically the same set of teenagers attending every week. 

There was one kid in my youth group that everyone considered an outsider. People liked to talk about him behind his back and make fun of him. Even parents discouraged youth group members from becoming friends with him. I however was very drawn to the outsiders and made it my personal mission for them to not feel left out.

I didn’t realize at the time that I thought my intentions were purely out of love. I wanted any outsider to feel loved and appreciated. However, later on in life, I have found that my intentions were to serve a selfish desire in myself as well.

So I became friends with our youth group outcast.

On the outside, he was the edgy kid who liked to listen to Nirvana and was fascinated by dark things. He would paint his fingernails black, grew his hair out well past his shoulders, and wore all black clothing. He didn’t fit the Christian cookie-cutter image that my youth group friends and I were being taught to become.

My parents especially didn’t like me to be around him. They tried as hard as they could to separate us. 

I remember once going on a youth trip to Gatlinburg to go skiing. They were fine with me going but before I left they spoke to our youth pastor about not allowing us to sit near each other in the van for the three-hour drive. Of course, I ignored this and came home from the trip only to be grounded for the next few months. 

Just for sitting next to him in the van!

When I got to know him, I found out that in his heart, he was just like the rest of us, struggling to find his place in the world. Trying to find out how and where he fits in. 

I couldn’t understand the why’s of it all. 

Why did he feel the need to wear a fake mask around everyone? 
Why did everyone feel that he didn’t deserve to be loved just like the rest of us? 
What had he ever done to not deserve that love? 
Why couldn’t we just accept him as he was?
Why did he need to change to please us and be accepted?

I had a lot of time to think about this. I was grounded, after all, thanks, Mom and Dad. You kind of made me what I am and if you don’t like it now, well you only have yourself to blame. I spent months in my room alone. I wrote “Masquerade” during this time. I had this visual in my mind of him wearing a mask for the world. 

What would happen if he actually took off the mask? Would the world accept him? Or, would it allow him to get closer to the world?

Ultimately, I decided it all came down to love, just like the Beatles, oh yeah, and what that Jesus guy taught us!

What does the song say “All you need is love”? In writing this article and re-reading this poem, I find it especially relevant to what we need right now in our society. We have placed expectations of what a person should or shouldn’t be. We determine someone’s worth to us based on expectations that we as a society have created. 

We all need to look past the masks we wear. When we do I think we will realize at our core we are all seeking the same thing, and that is to be loved.


A mask of white plaster,

Painted with flowery words,

And enhanced with a crooked smile,

Eyes that show a sparkle but really feel alone.

What would people think if you removed the plaster that cakes your face?

What would they truly see?

Would they see a face scarred from the past?

Would they see lines from your frown?

Would they see a heart of love or a heart of hate?

Sometimes I wonder what’s underneath your mask.

What does your heart really yearn for?

What do your eyes think they see?

I wish I could crack your plaster and slowly peel it away,

But I’m not the one who can,

You know who he is,

But you wear your mask for him too,


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