Playing Dress-Up

The sage-colored plastic lid lifts off the barrel to reveal bundles of lace, sequined leotards, creamy evening gowns, and fluffy blue tutus. Costume jewelry swims at the bottom of it all, along with a few purses and gloves. My six-year-old self runs for the makeup set and applies what I imagine to be the perfect amount of bright red lipstick to finish off the best dress-up ensemble ever. (No one tells me I look like a clown-turned-harlot, so I dance around gleefully in front of the camera.) Life just feels right when I’m here in these ridiculous shoes, pretending to be a fancy lady out on the town.

Maybe the glitz and glam wasn’t your scene: perhaps tying a superhero towel around your little shoulders was more your thing. Or wearing those funny glasses with the nose and mustache attached. Or sporting last year’s Halloween bear getup to your friend’s house across the street. Whatever your outlet, I hope you got a chance to pretend.

And I hope that since then, you’ve lost the need to dress yourself up into a new person.

Kids in bear costumes are adorable. Adults in bear costumes are just creepy.

God has been taking me on a journey of exploring my tender places recently, the times I want to cover my reality with the sequins of looking like a real adult. One of the big things I came away from my last training with was a newfound appreciation for my weaknesses. I used to think that I had to get everything worked out before I could be of any actual help to anyone. “No, I don’t want to sit down and talk you through your crisis today. I’m overwhelmed right now with my own lack.” Well, since that crisis isn’t going anywhere, out comes the grownup version of the blue tutu—capability. The crippling “not enough-ness” will still be waiting when I get back home.

The beauty of the gospel is that I don’t have to dress up and pretend anymore. I can wear my miserable honesty and walk into whatever awaits with a robe much finer than that silly pink feathery one from the dress-up tub. This robe is Christ’s sufficiency in. my. place. He’s enough, so I don’t have to be.

Why do I view my lack as weakness instead of as an invitation for God’s power to enter into the situation? Every moment I move into caring for others from my soft places (like my poor prayer practices or my less-than-stellar attitude or my whatever it might be on that given day), not despite them, is a chance for my courage to meet Christ’s ability.

What if I took the opportunity to see these weak points as a gift to me and to whoever I’m with? Because it’s so much easier to relate with a real-life person than with someone up on a big fat white horse who has matching socks and exquisite cooking abilities and a cat that hasn’t needed a bath for a month. My weakness makes me more sensitive to others; I can begin ministering out of my lack rather than out of my capability and competence. What a relief!

Maybe leaning into my neediness will create a reminder that I can’t save this person who needs help because, heck, I can’t even save myself. With that burgeoning awareness, I can gently take her hand and lead us both into the real Hero’s presence, the only place true power is to be found. And we’ll leave the costumes outside.

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