“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;” Jeremiah1:5
Have you ever had what you thought was a great idea, but when that idea actually went into fruition, had second thoughts? It was late October of 1980, I was twenty-two and working in a not so major retail chain as the manager of a shoe department. We had just received the head nod from management that we could in fact dress up on Halloween day for the store. I’ve always had somewhat of a penchant for creativity and this green light gave me the opportunity to be “somebody else” for a day. I thought and schemed about my transformation until I landed on what I thought would be the perfect disguise. What would be the direct opposite of a white man than…a black woman.
Convinced as I was that this was a great idea and undeterred from the hesitation of others, I set my plan in motion. I borrowed an old house dress from someone and a black wig from another; the dress was long enough to support long wool socks and work boots so my legs were covered. A fellow coworker, we’ll call her Pearlene, just happened to sell Mary Kay cosmetics and let me use her sample ebony make up. What can I say; the transformation was a long leap of faith in a short amount of time.
The day arrived for the great “unveiling” and I hurriedly got myself ready and out the door. Complete with pillows for my bosoms and a bandana on my head, I rushed over to Pearlene’s house to show off what “we” had done. I arrived and stepped on her porch, knocked on the door and stepped back so she could admire the “complete package”. Pearlene opened the door and her mouth flew open, her eyes grew wide as she uttered “what do you want?” I took a step forward while replying “it’s me, Pearlene!” My step forward triggered a guttural scream and Pearlene uttered something unintelligible as she jumped back and slammed the door in my face. I sheepishly knocked on the door again and announced that I was Steve…remember? Her response behind closed doors was…”is it really you?” That was the first time I really doubted my decision to be something I wasn’t and knew the day would become quite interesting.
I arrived at the store before opening and received the obvious responses I was expecting from my coworkers, but when the customers started to arrive, I was met with a completely different set of reactions. The stares, glares and finger pointing was beginning to take its’ toll on me as I attempted to spend the remainder of my work day either in the stock room, break room or lurking around between shelving units in the aisle ways. Who could blame the customers though; they innocently came in to buy their package of paper towels and toilet plunger and were met in the aisle by a hazel-eyed drag version of Mrs. Butterworth!
Fast forward to present day and real life. I guess it is just human nature to not be satisfied with who you are but to be someone or something different. People have a tendency to weigh their own attributes before peering over the fence at their neighbors so they can covet or desire what they feel is lacking. “I want to be taller, shorter, have more money, less body mass, a beautiful body, a great personality, work less, play more, to be married, to be free, the list goes on and on. The problem is, God made us just the way we are; He LOVES us just the way HE made us, and His intent is to use us with all of what we would consider our “shortcomings”…for His glory. In Psalm139:14 (NIV) David exclaims, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” How many of us are prepared to drop our self deprecating, degrading attitudes and embrace ourselves fully and unconditionally as God see us, warts and all?
Here is another train of thought…if you are truly supposed to love yourself “Just As I Am”, shouldn’t you love the ones around you just the way THEY are? Matthew 22:35-40(NIV) reads, “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Hhhmmm…could that even include the acceptance of your neighbor’s own political lean or preference? Yep, it is a lot harder to implement that commandment than to embrace it but is essential if you want to successfully play in life’s sandbox.
So, look in the mirror. Who are you really? Are you someone walking through life wishing you were someone else? Or have you fully embraced the one you were meant to be? If you have committed your life in Christ, you are God’s child (John 1:12), you are a member of Christ’s body (I Corinthians 12:27), you are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20), and you should have confidence that God will perfect the work He has begun in you (Philippians 1:6). Just something to think about the next time you are tempted to surf the web for a plastic surgeon.
So go ahead and explore who you were meant to be. As for me this Halloween season, I’m going to dress up and become what I have been for many years now; a character from Dennis the Menace…Mr. Wilson…