The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Save the costumes for Halloween

The last time I went trick-or-treating, I was in fourth grade. I think it was fourth grade. I dressed up as a clown, complete with the rainbow colored wig and big poofy pants and even the false nose. And I enjoyed myself thoroughly. There’s something fun—maybe even liberating—about dressing up and pretending to be somebody else.

Too much after that age, though, I think trick-or-treating is usually frowned upon. You get weird looks if you show up on somebody’s doorstep in a costume with a plastic bucket begging for candy.

Grown-ups don’t put on masks and costumes. At least, that’s the general supposition by the adult world. And I find that entirely ironic, because adults are better at wearing masks and costumes than any other demographic in the world.

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Samuel 16:7.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I’m not sure where the desire to dress up as someone else comes from, but there’s something fun about it. Wearing clothes you wouldn’t normally wear. Acting in a way you wouldn’t normally act. I mean, give me a Jedi robe, and all of a sudden I want to get in a laser sword fight with somebody. That’s not a normal inclination for me to feel.

But practically speaking, outside of Halloween or fall festivals or whatever you want to call it, a lot more people get up in the mornings and put on costumes than you think. Most of them are adults, and they do it every day.

They wear clothes they don’t like to impress people. They paint their face up to present an image that doesn’t really exist. They force themselves to act in a way that’s inconsistent with their values or their personality. They’re playing a part.

Know anyone like that? Or maybe you’re that person.

Maybe it started out fun. You got to pretend that you were someone the world calls important. You got to become what the world calls successful or beautiful or accomplished. And that’s a good feeling for a little while. But even the most fun costume becomes a chore after you wear it for a long time. And what started out as being liberating turned into chains around your ankles.

Granted, just because you wear clothes you don’t enjoy doesn’t automatically mean that you’re wearing a mask or that you’re covering anything up. But the people I know who have to dive in to a hugely competitive job market or a truly aggressive corporate environment have to put on a face that isn’t their own. Otherwise, they’ll never succeed.

But if you spend too long wearing a mask, covering up who you really are, you run the risk of convincing yourself that you are that person.

So often we are dissatisfied with the way we look or our lack of talent in a particular area, and we do everything in our power to change it. And that’s not necessarily wrong. We should always try to improve ourselves. But when that desire to change comes from an internal motivation that we aren’t good enough the way we were made, that’s different.

I’m a firm believer that people need to be who they were created to be. We don’t need to change ourselves. We don’t need to pretend to be someone else. We don’t need to exchange our gifts for someone else’s. God made us exactly the way He wants us, and if we try to change that, we’re telling Him that He doesn’t know what He’s doing.

So what if you’re short? So what if you’re tall? Too skinny, too round, too light, too heavy, too this, too that. So what if you have a big nose or a double chin? So what if your shoes can double as tugboats?

Know what? God made you. Yes, you have a responsibility to be healthy. Yes, you have a responsibility to live the way God has said is right, which means being true to God’s Word. But none of that means you need to put on a mask in order for others to accept you. Your real friends and the people who matter will accept you for the person you are.

So just be you. And save your costumes for Halloween.

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Can you trust what your eyes tell you?

How often do you trust your eyes? I bet you trust them more than you think about. I do. I trust my eyes to tell me when the lights are on or off, to judge the distance between two points, to tell me whether the colors I’m wearing match or clash.

If you see someone carrying a baby, it’s generally safe to assume that baby belongs to them. If you see a person with a Wal-mart shirt on inside Wal-mart, it’s usually okay to assume that they work for Wal-mart. Sort of like if you see someone with a beard, generally it’s safe to assume that person is a man. Except sometimes assumptions get you in trouble, especially if you’re assuming something based on appearances only.

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Today’s Bible verse is Hebrews 11:1-3.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

Yesterday was Halloween, and regardless of how you feel about it, most of the rest of the world still dresses up for it. My office always does Halloween up, with costume contests, potluck lunch, and the opportunity to decorate your office space. One of the prizes goes to best team costume, and this year our Marketing group came as the guys from Duck Dynasty. The three ladies in today’s photo (yes, ladies) are the project managers from our marketing group. They were hilarious. They’d even done their research to learn key lines each character says so they could act out scenes in front of people.

Ironically a good percentage of those of us who dressed up have never seen the show (me included), so we all just wore camouflage and wandered around the office talking in bad accents. It was a riot. We actually won for best team costume too, which was nice, considering that we were competing against Candyland in customer service and all the female Disney villains in HR.

Just by looking at us, anyone who walked into our office off the street would think we’d lost our minds. Granted, marketing people aren’t exactly the sanest folks in the corporate arena, but you get my point. We’re not crazy. We’re all professional, usually all the time. We work our butts off, and Halloween is one of the days we’re allowed to let our hair down a bit (and apparently let us glue hair on our faces too).

You can’t always trust what your eyes are telling you. Sometimes your eyes will tell you something true, like whether or not the light is on or off, but other times your eyes tell you things you have to interpret based on your opinions and your perspective.

Something similar happened at a restaurant the other evening. My brother and I were out eating, and the waiter came up behind us and said, “Good evening, ladies!” And then he realized my brother was my brother—not my sister. Awkward.

For those of you who don’t know my brother, his hair is shoulder length. From the back, I suppose he could be mistaken for a woman, but that means you’d be making an assumption based on what you’re seeing.

So should we distrust our eyes? Should we question everything we see? No, I’m not saying that at all. Obviously, some things are true, whether we see them or not. Truth is always true and trustworthy. But it’s not a bad idea to learn to question. It’s not wrong to be sure, and you can certainly avoid a lot of embarrassment if you wait for more information before you make a judgment call.

In any case, jumping to conclusions is never a good idea. And that goes for matters of faith too. It’s really easy to read the Bible and jump to a conclusion based on a portion of what God has promised without understanding the whole promise. It’s really easy to jump to a conclusion about where God is leading you in life before you know His entire purpose. But because we’ve seen a part of it, we automatically assume that we’ve seen enough to know what’s going on.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t.

Keep your eyes open, yes. But don’t make judgment calls based on half the story. Don’t jump to a conclusion before you understand the situation. Otherwise you’ll be the waiter who calls a man a woman, or you’ll be that person who incorrectly asks a woman if she’s pregnant.

God has told us what we can expect from Him. Don’t put words in His mouth. So the next time you’re tempted to make an assumption about God (or your neighbor or anyone really) based on something you’ve seen, think twice. You don’t see the whole picture.