A Tale of Two Crayons

We all love the idea of being someone else.

Most kids at some point in their life throw on a cape and a mask and transform into a valiant superhero or adorn themselves with plastic jewels and a gown and become a sparkling princess. Halloween is like the Super Bowl of dress up days for kids and adults alike who jump at the chance to mask themselves with the identity of someone cooler, stronger, prettier, funnier, spunkier…the possibilities are endless. For one whole day you get a free pass to be whomever your heart desires with no judgement from anyone (or at least less than usual).

We didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was a kid, but we were allowed to wear a costume to school for the neighborhood parade. So from kindergarten through 3rd grade, I was able to be what every kid dreams of…

a crayon.

Not just any crayon. A red crayon. Which was probably cute the first time. But when the red crayon costume got too tight, they made me a magenta crayon in a larger size. And my brother got to be the red crayon. Which I’m sure wasn’t his dream costume either. But I guess it was better than my youngest brother who barely got a costume at all until we outgrew the crayons. See how thrilled he looks?

Copyright Melissa VanHeukelum

I think at the time I was just happy to be able to wear a costume and join in the fun with the rest of my friends, but looking back I find it quite humorous and slightly disappointing. I’m sure 8-year-old me would have enjoyed releasing her inner She-Ra or Punky Brewster.

Never fear — that dream was redeemed at my 30th birthday party when I starred as Rainbow Brite (complete with my own layered rainbow cake). Every 80’s girl’s dream come true! In fact, since my teenage years I’ve taken on the identity of Little Red Riding Hood, a Greek Goddess, Sam I Am, A Country Fair Beauty Queen, and a Pirate for starters. And “dress-up” for my own kids, whether it’s Halloween or not, has been encouraged and enabled any chance we get.

Imagination is a gift and adds color and fun to our lives. But in reality, we don’t need a mask or wig to change us into who we want to be. We get a fresh start every day to be the best version of ourselves, and that can start with even the simplest change in our actions and attitude. In fact, if we get too fixated on our insecurities, on the gap between who we are and who we think we should be, we can completely miss out on what God can do in and through us. Take Moses (Exodus 3–4) or Gideon (Judges 6), for example, who were so focused on their limitations that they didn’t think they could be used to do anything significant for God. The reality is that it doesn’t matter who we are not, because despite any of our shortcomings, God has declared I AM (Exodus 3:14) and has the power to overcome everything we are not through faith in Him. We don’t need to put on a mask and pretend to be someone else. We can come to Him exactly as we are and He will use us for greater things than we could ever conjure with a costume.

My father-in-law often says, “Be yourself, it’s what you do best.” In a world where everyone seems to be trying to be something they are not, be yourself. God doesn’t need the superheroes and the princesses. He needs ordinary people who are willing to come as they are. Leave the rest to Him.

And don’t let anybody tell you’re just a red crayon.