October is here and Halloween is fast approaching. Talk about costumes is filling every corner of my world. Last year, both boys picked out ninja costumes on a whim while we were gallivanting through Costco. They were ninjas the entire month of October and as a result, neither one of them wore their costumes for Halloween but instead rummaged through a box of wigs I have to find the perfect look for the night.
Yes. I have a box of wigs that I keep on hand for such an occasion. Actually, in my opinion, who needs an occasion to wear a wig?
My wig collection started growing when I was a young professional. Prior to that, I had never really been one to dress up for Halloween. We didn’t “Trick or Treat” as children, we “Trunk or Treated” in a church parking lot where the only acceptable costumes were characters that were represented in the Bible or something God created. You didn’t have to just dress up as Mary, Joseph, or an angel, you could be an animal, a tree, or fruit. Creativity in a box was the name of the game and the possibilities were endless, except that they weren’t.
Have you ever wondered what it is about dressing up that many people find so alluring? Why do we spend hours, time, and money to create an alternative way to express ourselves often just for a night?
Are we wanting to present ourselves to the world as someone other than we actually are? Do we crave connection and community? Maybe we are just looking to enjoy ourselves, to play, and have fun. What if our costumes say something about how we feel inside or who we see ourselves to be? What might we learn about one another if we openly engaged with curiosity and acceptance instead of bringing judgement and fear?
If I were to choose a costume for myself this year based on my current state of being, I might have to go with a regulator-robot-enforcer-zombie. Before you connect me with an evil plot brimming with voodoo, let me explain a little more.
My role within my family has shifted as I am now working part-time out of the home granting me the new accountability of after school pick-ups, homework time, and meal prep in the hours between work and dinnertime.In addition to the normal responsibilities of life, my family is navigating the uncharted waters of being neighbors. After living for the last six years autonomously exploring the land surrounding our home, we are now nestled in the middle of a neighborhood.
Opportunities for connection and activity present in ways we’ve previously limited and my built-in boundaries are consistently being challenged. My tendency is to figure out how to keep us living small, to shut out the external forces that seem within my control as I try to regulate activity and enforce the rules. The constant push back provokes fear and unrest within me and as soon as my “responsible hours” end, I shut down. Sadly, shutting down becomes my protection, distancing me from those I love and ultimately masking my vulnerability.
In this alone space, my heart and mind fantasize, and I remember when life felt easier. The truth is that it wasn’t easier, it was different and familiar, smaller and safe. Nichole Nordeman says it beautifully with “No Longer”on her newest album:”I don’t want to live like I’m half alive…I thought living safe meant living stronger. No longer.”
Truth be told, when life gets hard, the pull to live half alive is understandable if not necessary for a season.
The temptation to live in the past or cling tightly to fantasy has the power to turn our memories into idols of idyllic circumstances that paralyze us from fully embracing ALL that exists in our current reality.
However, the invitation to truly live is always present. What if invitation is waiting for us to push beyond the exhaustion and fatigue, to the gifts that are available when we stay present one small moment at a time?
Maybe the truest parts of myself would come to life and I wouldn’t feel the need to present myself as a regulator-robot-enforcer-zombie on Halloween or any other day. What if instead, I could tell a different story, we could each tell a different story? One that uniquely showcases our bravery and strength when we identify our fear and our weakness and walk forward anyway.
Bethany Cabell is recently returned to her home state of Texas after residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here. &