Barbie costumes, Armor, and Strength

I remember few Halloween costumes growing up as a kid. There’s only one photo of me in one (hi second kid over here), and it was taken by the school during lunch. One of the ones I remember vividly though is of Barbie. If you are a child of the 80s and early 90s you’ll remember our costumes didn’t exactly resemble the ones of today. By that I mean it was a plastic mask and essentially a painted trash bag you slipped over your school clothes. The trash bag often was painted to give you the idea of a costume. But it was a trash bag and a flimsy plastic mask held on by a string that inevitably broke 5 minutes into the night.

What brought this to mind was not the fact that today is Halloween, but what I was reading in Ephesians 6. As Paul starts to conclude his letter we see nestled in the very last paragraphs his instructions on arming ourselves for daily battle as believers. He lists out exactly what we should be arming ourselves with, and that it should be the full armor of God. We cannot go into battle with just a helmet and shoes, or a shield and a belt. He is pointing to the very real need to have a complete armor to face the things which wage against us daily.

Many of us, if we grew up in the church, have heard of the full armor of God. We might even remember flannel-graphs being pulled out and we dress up a figured with the items. But as I read the garments for battle I kept thinking of that stinkin’ Barbie costume. The image kept coming to mind as I tried again and again to focus in on what Paul was saying.

Then I went back a verse to see these words anew:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.

(v. 10, CSB)

You see I too often try to strap on all my battle gear and armor without taking into account that it’s of my own making. That I am essentially putting on that trash bag and plastic mask for battle daily rather than leaning into the strength of the Lord. I am taking plastic facades of my own weakness to fight against principalities and powers that know exactly what will take me down, and yet I seem to be fine with that. I choose my own lack of strength instead of allowing myself to be strengthened by the Lord and given His strength. I put on trash bags instead of righteousness, flimsy strings instead of salvation.

So when Paul’s words struck anew about fashioning each day with the full armor of God it’s not in my strength (or true lack thereof) but in the Lord’s that I put it on. Not in my former self, that was all too dependent upon me to take care of things, but in my new clothes those of a new self…one that recognizes the need for the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit and all the rest for each day. Not more than today but just the armor of today specifically for battle. My armor looks to be more prepared and strengthened in what it should be rather than that Barbie costume I tried to hide behind.

Illusions of Control

How is Halloween over? It’s November 1st and we are dive-bombing straight into holiday season aren’t we?

Halloween has always been a fun time for me. I love the whole candy/dress up/festive nature of it. So many people take it to an extreme in either direction but I like to nestle in right in the middle. I enjoy campy scary movies, costumes and ridiculous ideas for goodies. There’s exactly one photo of me dressed up as a kid, and it was taken at school over lunch in the cafe-gym-a-torium. (What, your cafeteria wasn’t the gym and the auditorium too? You were missing out!)

I was a witch, and I don’t even recall that costume. I do however remember a Jem costume (which I touched on last week) and I recall that year in college I dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always picked strong females to go as. This year I constructed a lovely combo and the end result was this:

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Yes, I am a Price is Right contestant…and a fabulous one at that I might add.

But this all got me thinking, as most holidays tend to do. I think the reason why we all love Halloween so much is the illusion of controlling who people see us as is so prevalent.

Hang with me here, as I know we jumped from Plinko to pursuing control rather quickly.

It’s the illusion we all walk around with daily, on social media, in the office, in stores and with one another. We want others to see us in the way we have crafted, with almost too much perfection, rather than the way we were crafted to be. Because we were crafted as image-bearers. Reflections of the Divine, but broken.

In that broken, we just cannot manage. We cannot cope and we run to things to sew onto ourselves so that we are hidden. The we that shows our faults, our ugly bits, and who we were crafted as. So we feverishly hone the art of controlling the illusion of control. We chip it away, we polish it up and we put it on display. We hide away the parts that have been brought to our attention so that others cannot see them-see the real us, the faults.

We take ourselves right back to the beginning, there in the Garden, to the original sin all in the name of control. In the name of having control because it’s too hard to not have it. It’s much more difficult for us to relinquish and let go, trusting that He has it all planned and we just aren’t privy to it. We desire after that knowledge, and controlling how others see us is exactly how we can map out life in a controlled environment.

I keep saying we here because I am guilty of it too…seeking the illusion of control in order to be something other than what I was created to be. His reflection. The bearer of His image. Because when I seek that control, when I knit those fig leaves together to cover up, I am telling Him His image isn’t good enough for me. It’s not worthy and I don’t trust Him with knowing me.

Oh it stings to get to that realization, to see exactly what the lie of control really does, what it really communicates. It’s saying He isn’t enough. That He’s not trustworthy with my life. That faith cannot solely rest in Him because I know more, I am better. It’s a lie friends. A lie we have believed from the beginning that we can be more, and that if we but believe in the illusion of control then we will be more than what He has created us to be.

Frankly, I am just tired of the illusion and trickery. I am no longer a kid prone to magic tricks and tales. But I still dress up as though I believe it…so what if we decided to stop with the belief in the illusion? What would that look like within our own hearts, our lives, our relationships?

It’s November 1st y’all. It’s time to take off the costumes, the masks and relinquish the illusions we have carried up to now.