Judah loves to dress up in costumes. On any given day, he might be Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Peter Pan, Jake from Jake and Neverland Pirates; you just never know. He lives in his costumes! He eats in them, naps in them, plays in them, I even let him go to the grocery store in one the other day (I have to pick my battles if you know what I mean.)
He loves to put them on and then pretend that he is whatever character he’s wearing. Whether he’s shooting me with his Buzz Light Year laser, singing the songs from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, or pretending to fly around like Peter Pan, he is that character. He has a memory like a steel trap that son of mine so he acts out the scenes from the movie verbatim, spurred on by the new identity that his costume has given him.
One day he got pretty creative on me. I set his food down in front of his costumed self and the conversation went about like this:
Me: “Here you go buddy. Eat up!”
Judah: “I can’t Mama.”
Me: “Why not?”
Judah: “Because I’m Buzz and Buzz never eats in the movie.”
Me: (laughing a little to myself and fighting my begrudging respect for his sneaky yet brilliant tactic.) “You’re right buddy he doesn’t but you are a different Buzz and this Buzz does eat lunch.”
Judah: “Yeah this Buzz does.”
Miracle of miracles, that worked and he ate his lunch, but Judah’s sudden personality shift left me thinking. Judah’s reaction to his costume is not unlike the costumes we wear. Our costumes are not as overt. But they are there, and many of them are sewn by shame.
Shame is a funny thing. We all deal with it because we all do things that are worthy of feeling shame. We mess up plain and simple and shame is a natural reaction to our actions. If we let it though, shame can pile on us in layer upon layer until our true identity is buried beneath it. Kind of like a costume.
We let our mistakes and the way we feel about them define us. We wear labels like “Liar” or “Addict” or “Divorcee” or whatever it may be all around us, draped like an ill-fitting costume until, in our minds, that’s who we are. We forget that beneath this costume that we’ve put on ourselves, there is a person very different from the character that we are playing.
We wear that shame-costume like it’s going out of style because, well, we earned it. We did those things, said those things, thought those things and if the shoe fits…right? We act out the scenes we think we should, repeating the lines of self deprecation and shooting down the praise and forgiveness of others with the laser sharp guilt in our costume. We hold ourselves back, embarrassed that we showed up in a costume to a regular old party. We place limits on our true self because now, we are defined by this costume and sooner or later, like Judah sitting at the kitchen table, we tell ourselves that we can’t join in, participate, fill our very needs because the costume says we can’t.
But can I just say, you are a different Buzz.
Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
You, the one with all that stuff you think you have to hide. You, the one that’s messed up a thousand times. You, the one that thinks we’d all turn away if you showed us your true self. You are different than who you think you are.
Jesus died and rose again so that you wouldn’t have to live life in a costume of shame. He saw our mess, our masquerade and thought, “That’s not who they are”. He sees you, the person behind the costume and says, “I have made you different. I have come to give you freedom.”
And “who the Son sets free is free indeed.” John 8:36. That shame does not become you ladies. But something else does.
“Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 13:14 (NIV)
Put on His grace and His provision instead. Guard your mind with the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) so that you can know when that shame creeps up and you’re feeling a little dress-up time coming on, that you are redeemed and clean.
And hear this.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Don’t allow shame to high-jack your identity. Don’t be held back and rendered useless in the kingdom of God because you think you are unworthy. The story you have and the road you’ve walked is yours to cherish. It was given to you by a master story teller who trusted that you would use it to glorify him. When we live in shame we are saying that the Grace of God extended to us in every circumstance was not enough. When we live in grace though, we give our story and our mistakes power to enact change.
Take off the costumes and own the fact that you are different because you have been set free from the sins of your past. You were made to walk in grace… to infinity and beyond!