This past Saturday night, February 11th, 2017, SingleMomzRock held our 5th Annual Valentine's Banquet. Over 100 single mother's got glammed up and arrived with smiles on their faces. They were escorted to their table by gentlemen with roses in hand. We cater them dinner, have a photographer take their picture, they get to listen to live music and mingle with other single mom's. It's truly become the biggest event for single moms in our area.
Our theme this year was "Behind the Mask". It actually was thought of when several moms from our group headed to a conference last summer in New Orleans, and we were in the shops browsing and thought that a masquerade theme would be a perfect fit. Fast forward six months and we are coming up with a name for the banquet. We always try have a theme that will able us to minister to the moms as well, but I had no idea how different this year would be.
Also during that time in New Orleans, my dear friend Alaina McCauley messaged me saying she really felt like she should share her story with other single moms. A former single mother herself, she had been through all the battles and felt like it was time to be vulnerable with others. I told her I would get back to her but already had in my mind that she would be perfect as a speaker to other single moms. We asked her to be our featured speaker for the banquet and she agreed.
Now here we are Saturday night and it's all came together. The castle-like Anglican Church is adorned with tables covered in black and white damask table clothes and red rose poms with silver chandeliers. The red carpet the moms walked down were lined with white rose petals. It was truly stunning, magical almost. Everyone is enjoying themselves, making new friends and getting caught up with old ones.
Alaina started her message with sharing with everyone her past history of her alcoholic father and always wearing her happy mask to hide all the sadness. By the time her teen years came along she was depressed on the inside and contemplated suicide. She had fell in love at the age of 16, the mask fell off and the smile was real but her dad forbid her to see Him. She started searching all over for a replacement. No one knew quite how good she was at wearing masks. She filled that hole in her heart with boys/men and they were always trouble. The common theme was alcohol or drug users and abusers. She had so much heartache and could never quite figure out why. Why did she always choose those guys? Why would God put those guys in her life? She became mad at God. I mean He's the one that allowed those choices right?
At 38 years of age, she was once again a single mom, raising four children. Her dad was given just months to live and she finally realized that she had only ever just wanted someone to choose her. Choose her over the alcohol, choose her over the drugs, someone to just love her for her, no masks. At that point in her life, she realized she had found that in her first love; God. She had always had right what she was looking for all along. She was CHOSEN, LOVED, TREASURED and SACRIFICED for. Isn't that what we all want? She stopped looking for love in all the wrong places and put down the masks that she had worn all her adult life.
I looked around the room as Alaina was speaking, I could see tear-filled faces and heard sniffling of noses. I even caught myself starting to tear up with thoughts of my own choices and the masks that I had worn through the years to hide my pain. She resonated with so many of our moms, even if they didn't share the same story they knew exactly what she was talking about.
As the banquet came to a close, I took to the podium. I asked everyone if they would put their masks on. I heard grumbles and sighs. Most of them know I have been taking a break from running SingleMomzRock. I told them as women, especially as single moms, we all have our "masks" that we wear. It may be the mask that everything is fine when someone asks if you are okay. It may be the mask of strength when you feel like giving up. It may be the mask of independence when you are the loneliest you've ever been. If can also be the mask that people give you. Do you know what I mean?
For years, people put a mask on me, expectations on me that I didn't ask for. I let them because I didn't know enough about myself to know better. I lived my life wearing that mask...and I was miserable. Through self-reflection, I realized God made me exactly who He wanted me to be. And I'm learning to love that person; something else I didn't know how to do. Learning to love myself has been one of the hardest and most joyous times of my life. My relationship with my girls has changed. My relationship with my family and friends have grown deeper. It truly has been a life changer for me.
I told them I no longer needed to wear my mask and I gently untied it from the back of my head and removed it from my face. I looked up and I saw tears and I heard gasps. I then asked over 100 single moms if they wanted to continue to wear their masks and if not to please remove them. Immediately, masks were falling off faces all over. It was one moment in my life I will never forget. I told them to put them away and to never wear them again, to frame them or hang them in the closet as a reminder of where they have been. I asked them to start the road to self-love and self-acceptance and it would be one of the most freeing things they would ever do.
We have received such positive feedback from the banquet and the theme has been a constant in each one. Everyone resonated with it. Everyone felt her pain and the insecurities as she was describing them. My wish is that we have provided such a community of support that when they start to slip those masks back on, they can come to us and let us help them see themselves the way He sees them. Just as He made them...#behindthemask.