The tradition of dressing up in costumes and going from door-to-door asking for candy is something that I've done my whole life. Halloween is kind of a big deal...Americans will spend close to $7 Billion dollars on the holiday this year. The decorations will range from small to spooky. The costumes range from the scary to sexy. An entire industry has surrounded the darkest holiday on the calendar.
The first costume that I can remember wearing was a dinosaur that my mom made for me. She was really impressive at making costumes. From there I went on to the likeness of Garfield, Karate Kid, Steve Urkel, Ken Griffey Jr., and hockey player. I know hockey player sounds kind of generic, but the costume included wearing roller blades to maximize the number of houses I could visit. The stairs up to each porch was a minor oversight.
Probably my worst Halloween costume was "old lady". I was in elementary school and I was wearing makeup. Not the cool, fake blood type of makeup...the lipstick and eye shadow type of make up. The dress was itchy. The pillow that embellished my backside kept falling out. The costume provided a good laugh for people, but it was nothing but a bother to me.
Actually, there's a costume that I wear that bothers me more than "old lady". The costume is called, "guy who has it all together". Every morning I go to my closet to decide what to wear, but this costume can be worn on top of any clothing. Coffee is essential to this costume for me. This character requires energy. The most interesting thing about this costume is that it makes me think that others are really impressed by it.
This costume bothers me.
"Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
We're only fooling ourselves if we think that we can somehow make everyone believe that we have it all together. Furthermore, we're believing a lie if we think that we're the only ones struggling to keep things together. Comparison is a twisted game that we can get sucked into. There are no winners when it comes to comparison, only the proud and the pitiful.
If you find yourself around a bonfire this weekend or sometime this season, consider burning this costume. It may mask our true identity for a short time, but in the long run it isolates us and can prevent us from having true relationships. Even better, seek to love someone else in spite of their weaknesses or short-comings. This will help enable them to take down their mask and embrace their true identity.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load." Galatians 6:2-5
Author and speaker Nate Larkin says that the danger for us when we create a persona is that we come to love a character other than how God created us to be.
The party's over. It's time to take off the costume.
As I write this, I'm listening to the Uncomfortable album from Andy Mineo. I love hip hop/rap music. I admire the craft of telling a story through a meticulous manipulation of syllables. The best way to listen to rap music, or any music for that matter, is by sitting with some earbuds in so you can feel every beat and understand every word. It's not all that surprising that a writer wants to soak up the words in the music.
Listening to music is an ancient practice, yet the digital revolution has made more music more accessible than ever. This is a great thing...yes? Maybe...I think it all depends on who's in your ear. Don't miss the best part of the incredible amount of freedom that we have in accessing an endless library of songs. The best part is the choice. You don't like what you're hearing...change it.
It's a really simple concept, but it's so important.
Here's why. Who you let in your ear gets access to your mind. Who you allow to have access to your mind eventually gets access to your heart. Don't believe it? You don't have to, but it's true. Some of the most popular, catchy songs are called "earworms" because they get in your head and stay there for hours. It's incredible how easily we give up real estate in our mind to Carly Rae Jepsen or Idina Menzel.
"Did God really say...?"
These are the first recorded words of the devil recorded in Genesis 3:1. There he is trying to get in the ear of the first people and introduce a message that would lead to the destruction of all mankind. His aim is to steal, kill, and destroy and he'll settle for a subtle approach of staying in our ears, until our minds have been bent and eventually our hearts are compromised.
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it."
Choose wisely who you put in your ear. From friends to counsel to leaders to politicians...this goes well beyond music. Guarding our heart begins with guarding our ears. We can listen to message that encourage us to pursue the best things in life. The things that honor God. We can also listen to the smooth speech of those who really have our destruction in mind.
"For the lips of the adulterous woman drip
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword."
So...who's in your ear? Take a couple of minutes to consider the voices that speak the loudest. Are any of them encouraging? Do any of them point you to Jesus? If you don't like who's in your ear...change it.