The Power of Your Face
- March 25, 2022
Uncovering the Relational Impact of Masking
The Bible, in those “less than modern” translations, repeatedly uses the word “countenance”. It’s an old word that has long since faded from usage but its meaning is so rich with significance. Countenance refers to a person’s look and expression. It’s the person’s visage that’s an indication of their mood and emotion – a reflection of their inner disposition. Our face tells the story.
A quick Biblical survey of the word, countenance, reveals a lot about the power of the face. Scripture describes many types of countenances: they can show disapproval, fierceness, shame, pride, cheerfulness, sadness, rebuke, guilt, troubledness, confidence and more. One’s countenance can be beautiful, can be angelic, can be brightened, and can be sharpened (improved). The look on our faces can fall and can change. Our countenance can be lifted and strengthened by God and can also lift and help others. The implications of the power of the face are not small. It’s through our faces that we read and interpret one another. Likely the most recognized and encouraging verses on countenance – God’s Looking on Us – are from Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)
“The Lord bless youand keep you(showing his care and protection);
the Lord make his face shine on you (His countenance brings his blessing) and be gracious to you (extending grace and kindness to you); the Lord turn his face toward you (His countenance focused on you) and give you peace (through the assurance of His presence).”
As being face to face with the Lord brings closeness to Him, our face naturally leads the way in connecting with others — that’s through our countenance. Before you say a word, your face has already said a lot. Let’s see if you are tracking with me. With the following list of dispositions, take a moment to imagine what each word looks like on someone. I’ll bet you can immediately picture each type of ‘look’ on someone’s face. Imagine the corresponding countenance: Welcoming. Disinterested. Radiant. Downcast. Excited. Disgusted. Happy. Depressed. It’s truly amazing how we can instantly and generally visualize what each person’s expression would be.
Masks Covered Our Countenance
For many, there was widespread relief when the mask mandate ended. Please note: this discussion is NOT in any way a statement for or against the wearing of masks. I am desiring only to help you understand the relational impact of having had to wear them for so long and what we can do to regain what we lost as a society.
So, what has happened to us with these two years of NO FACES? Having to wear a mask in virtually all public forums, covering up our initial and primary interactive cues from and to one another. It has limited our ability to connect and deteriorated any marginal relationships even further. Two-thirds of our face was covered for twenty-four months. During that season, we all but lost the beautiful impact of one another’s countenance. Each person’s most defining distinctions had all but vanished. Our expression…lost. Our disposition…lost. Our emotions…lost. Our current state…lost. All because our faces were lost due to required mask-wearing.
More than people realize, as we’ll share, most relationships have taken a big hit because the power of the face was eliminated by masks.
Masks led to growing social disconnect. Partly out of fear and partly out of convenience, many people pulled away from others. In some cases, those shy and more reserved used the opportunity to withdraw even further from others. It became easier to hide and to live in privacy. Remember, we were forced to curtail our interaction. It was called “social distancing”. We were told it was good for our physical health and safety but what kind of toll was levied on the relational and emotional health of people? Conversations became minimal, frustrating and surface. Then, add the mandated restrictions, forced isolation and monitored quarantine. Each one was designed to limit our engagement within our social network. You didn’t just not talk to strangers; you were encouraged to not engage with those already close to you – your friends and family. Many sequestered into social cocoons with almost a complete loss of face time (and not in the Apple sense).
Beyond coming to grasp the negative relational impact that this pandemic season has had on our world, what could we now wisely do to begin to overcome the social distancing that has occurred? Here are some of my initial thoughts:
Regaining Relational Connection
REALIZE THE POWER OF YOUR FACE.
Your countenance is YOU. Your hand, your hair, your feet don’t define you. It’s your face that’s both the initial and primary point of relational connection. Your face shows who you are. It reflects your mood and disposition. Your face reflects you. It is how you connect to people. Use your face wisely.
RESUME YOUR FACE BEAM.
Smile as you approach others. Show your pearly whites! Like high beam lights in your car – light up the lives of those you meet. You control your face. You can choose how you come across. Selflessly, begin flashing your headlights saying to other, “I see you, I notice you and I value you.”
RENDER KINDNESS WITHOUT A WORD.
Don’t look away. Don’t look busy or preoccupied. Put your phone away. Notice them and SMILE. Did you hear me? Smile! Look at them when you do. It costs nothing and gives a lot. Nod your recognition to them. Show kindness as well through gestures like opening a door, letting them go first in line and offering a hand-shake. Your decision to show interest with engaging eyes looking into their eyes, you give a real gift.
RISK TO SAY SOMETHING.
if nothing else, say ‘hello’ or ‘how’s it going?’. Small talk is far better than no talk. The importance of increasing verbal interchange goes up with the closer the relationship. Stop for a moment or two. Let your ‘hello’ lead to a brief catch-up conversation.
RE-ENGAGE WITH YOUR PEOPLE.
Who are you closest to? Who is in your bubble? Target reconnection with them. If there have been increased stresses in your home or your marriage, amplified by the restrictions, work through the hurts, apologize and forgive with equal freedom. With the mask and isolation mandates behind you, take time to connect. Go for coffee or a walk. Sit face to face or walk hand in hand. Start talking again and all the more with those you love.
REFRESHING OTHERS HONOURS GOD
– A welcoming warmth is the way God wants us to operate. Let your countenance scream your interest. Paul reminded us of the importance of “greeting one-another with a holy kiss” (4 times in the NT) which was the two cheek, cultural kiss of warm welcome. It would be equivalent to a bear hug in our society. I am ok with handshakes and high fives. Be encouraging also. Do whatever it takes to show you value and accept one another (Romans 15:7).
Let’s work hard together in rebuilding connection within our families and throughout our society at large. Choose to become the warm welcoming, graciously greeting, and relationally rejuvenating person that you wish you’d run into more often. It’s a reflection of the more excellent way — love.
© Dr. Dave Currie – March 2022