trickers and treats

I never went trick-or-treating as a kid. My parents were convinced that it was the Devil’s own day and the sure-fire sign that Jesus was coming back soon. When I was young, my mom would tell me there were demons running around the neighborhood, going door to door. I would nervously peek out the blinds because I wanted to see these demons who were terrorizing my neighborhood. I saw Elmo from Sesame Street.

My folks would turn off the front light when the kids came out in their costumes so that hopefully they wouldn’t ring our doorbell. And even if they did, we wouldn’t open, even though the trick-or-treaters (and their parents) could probably hear our TV and smell the scents of curry as my mom cooked. We may or may not have been egged once. Or several times.

This year, I decided I would buy the candy myself and hand it out to all the costumed kids that came by. I bought 6 jumbo bags of chocolate candy, turned our porch light on, and sat by with a book, waiting to happily dish the candy out. After 45 minutes, I had my first trick-or-treater!

It was a 17 year old in a hoodie.

I complimented her… costume, and let her have 2 pieces of candy. The next visitor came 20 minutes later. Two hours and 1 trick-or-treater later, I realized I had a lot of candy to get rid of. By the fourth child, a 3-year old in an astronaut costume, I was eagerly urging him to take all he wanted, coaxing him to take more and more. His mother stepped forward, grabbed his hand, curtly said “Thank you,” and walked off. I heard her hiss to him, “Don’t you touch any of that candy!” I guess something about an overly-eager, frantic-eyed, bearded brown man urging her toddler to take more of his candy unsettled her.

I literally had 6 people come by the entire night. And I still have enough candy to give Venezuela a cavity.

Halloween has always struck me as a bit peculiar. We teach kids their entire childhood to be themselves and no one else, witches are bad, and don’t ever take candy from strangers. And in one night, all those rules go out the window.

For one night, we can be someone else. We spend our lives creating the character we want people to perceive when they see us — we create an identity — and then we play the role, mask and all. We project an image and strive to ensure that the image is maintained because it wouldn’t do for people to know who we truly are. I’ve often pondered that life sometimes feels like a show you’re putting on, and every day you choose the mask you want to wear. But on Halloween, we have the opportunity to ditch the everyday mask and be someone totally different and unconventional. We can break societal expectations and appear sinister, holy, provocative, silly, ambitious, sensual, sacrilegious and everything else we can’t be the other 364 days of the year. The sorority president on the Dean’s List can be a scantily-clad Playboy bunny, the nerdy Electrical Engineer can be a very un-Twilight-esque vampire, and the  worship leader who is a Biology/Religious Studies major  can be a compelling Jack Sparrow pirate. We take off our everyday costume and slip on the thrilling costume of the temporary escape.

For one night, we can be someone else. And for one night, we can get away with it.

“which mask will you wear today
how about the one with the pretty smile
to you it’s just another day
in a life you haven’t lived in quite awhile”   – Lifehouse, “Just Another Name”

Few people see us as we really are: broken, messy, and maybe slightly crazy.We call it vulnerability, taking off the surface mask and letting your truer, weaker self be known. It’s not something that our culture or society applaud because we’re taught to not show weaknesses or flaws. Survival of the strongest, right? We can hide behind the mask and no one has to see how ugly, scarred or scared we are.

But maybe we were made to be known. Maybe that’s where true community happens and friendships are forged. Maybe being vulnerable and honest about our brokenness, our struggles, and our fears can lead to healing, strength, and victory. Maybe we don’t have to be perfect. Maybe we don’t have to be alone.

It’s something I’ve learned over the years. I’ve been blessed to have friends who have seen me at my best and very worst, who have encouraged me, rebuked me, laughed with me, laughed at me, and prayed with me. People who point me back to Christ. People who remind me that in my weakness, Jesus Christ is shown to be strong.

In Scripture, we are reminded of the reality of a new identity in Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. (Gal. 2:20) Indeed, Paul tells us that if we are in Christ, we have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27) so that we who are broken, sinful and shameful now wear the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Sure we were broken, but now the Holy Spirit of God lives in us! We who are new creations don’t have to live behind the masks we create, but can live as children of the Most High God, citizens of an eternal Kingdom, co-heirs with Christ. Now that’s a provocative identity!

We’ve ditched this year’s Halloween costumes. Now Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are on the horizon, and family get-togethers, friendship reunions, and holiday meals claim spots in our calendars. Maybe it’s time to ditch the costumes we wear the other days of the year. Maybe we can be honest about who we really are to those we care about. Maybe we can live in our identity in Christ.


3 responses to “trickers and treats”

  1. “But maybe we were made to be known. Maybe that’s where true community happens and friendships are forged. Maybe being vulnerable and honest about our brokenness, our struggles, and our fears can lead to healing, strength, and victory. Maybe we don’t have to be perfect. Maybe we don’t have to be alone.” – Love this.

    This is something I feel really strongly about. The struggles, mistakes and choices we make in this life allow for growth and comprise our testimony. We aren’t perfect, so there’s no reason for us to pretend that we are. Reputation means a lot in the Indian community – often, more than it should. And while, I can understand it (to an extent), I feel it often gets in the way. In order to encourage each other in the Lord, in order to grow, mentor & lovingly rebuke each other, we must open up & let people see our imperfection and weakness. The beauty lies in the fact that despite those negative things, Christ loves us all the same & is constantly using us to bring glory to His Name. I feel that as a community, we need to be real with ourselves – we’re not perfect, we mess up. I want to be able to share the mistakes I’ve made & the lessons I’ve learned with the younger girls. But if my experiences find their way to the ears of those less accepting, then life as I know it will be over because my reputation will have been ruined (totally exaggerating here….well, kinda sorta not really). I want them to trust me and confide in me rather than trying to go through it alone. But if I present myself as someone who has never made a wrong decision, how will they feel comfortable enough to do that?

    If we feel like we can’t share our struggles/failures/mistakes with our fellow brothers & sisters in Christ, how can we encourage them or be encouraged ourselves? In order to see growth in our Indian community, I really think this barrier needs to be torn down. After all, our weaknesses are used for His greatest glory…so perhaps glorying in our weaknesses for the simple fact that His strength more than compensates for our lack thereof is what we should try to progress towards as a community…

    • I whole heartedly agree with you! We’ve made reputation and image into idols that we bow before, so that any show of vulnerability or flaw destroys how people perceive us. The Fall happened, we’re not perfect. We live with the ramifications of sin and death and brokenness. And without sharing that with others, without sharing our weaknesses and struggles and failings, we become islands. We make our faith and walk with Jesus a private experience and distort how God intended us to live.

      The Indian community has a long way to go, but I’m encouraged to see some who have begun task of being transparent. It’s hard. You can lose your reputation in the community. Then it becomes harder to do ministry, harder to get married, and harder apparently for people to respect you. Grace, forgiveness and redemption are just words we often leave in our sermons and songs, not realities we live out.

      But you and I and others like us can maybe work some change. I think the old mentality is beginning to crack, albeit ever so slightly. Keep encouraging the younger girls! And I’ll keep sharing my broken past and current struggles. I trust in a sovereign God to use it for His glory.

      Write away, on topic or not! I like interacting with ideas and issues. We don’t tackle them in the church often…

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