A Raggedy Ann doll, a three-armed thing, a giant foot(bloody stump of an ankle included), and of course the less than figure flattering stuffed pumpkin, these are just a few of the creative Halloween costumes my mom managed to make for me when I was growing up. In fact, I do not recall ever going to the store to buy a manufactured costume. I suppose that is why, when my own kids began to require Halloween costumes, I felt compelled to MAKE their costumes.
I am sure my kids would have been THRILLED to have the normal costumes they saw in the stores, but that did not keep me from insisting on a good old homemade costume. Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mom’s skills. Following a pattern and sewing were out of the question. I was pretty pleased with myself when I figured out I could transform my youngest into a mouse using a grey sweat suit, headband, felt, glue gun, safety pins and face paint. My son morphed into a tiger with nothing more than an orange sweat suit painted with stripes, elaborate face paint and a safety pinned tail.
I had not planned it, but eventually most of my kid’s Halloween costumes were some variation of a sweat suit and fabric paint.
Dalmatian puppy– white sweat suit painted with spots
Wolf-black hooded sweat suit with ears pinned to hood and fancy face paint
Kitty Cat-black sweat suit, felt tail, headband with ears
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle– green sweat suit, felt, painted cardboard
You get the idea…
Looking back, I am impressed with what good sports my kids were about it. They stood beside their friends to pose for photos and never once asked me why the other costumes looked better than theirs did. “Well, you see…Mathew and Kristin’s mommy knows how to sew and she used REAL fabric and REAL patterns and she spent A LOT more time on the costumes…someday your mommy may learn to sew too.” I had my reply practiced, but knew it would not be truthful, I knew I was not likely to learn to sew. I was glad they never asked.
I did it out of love. Handmade costumes represented time and effort, which I knew to be valuable. I wanted to give my kids time and effort, but I am not certain my costume making was entirely from a pure heart. A closer look at past Halloweens reveals a secondary reason for my undertakings. I wanted OTHER moms to see that I cared enough to MAKE my kids costumes. I do not recall actually thinking that at the time, but if I am honest with myself, I can see it was an incentive. Even when my kids wanted nothing more than a plastic mask held in place by a thin strip of elastic, I insisted on one of our sweat suit creations.
At some point, it stopped being about what made them happy and more about not looking like a mom who did not invest time and effort. Yep, in trying to make costumes so my kids could pretend they were something they are not for Halloween, I was pretending to be something I was not.
I heard a friend of mine give a devotion recently in which she talked about masks. Her words struck my heart as she spoke of how often we place on a mask. I was convicted about how often I pretend to be something I am not. I have used masks many times. Saying we are okay when someone asks, when in reality we are not and smiling when we do not really feel happy are just two examples of masks we tend to wear. Sometimes we put on a mask and cape and secretly hope no one notices that below the “super mommy/daddy” or “super husband/wife” costume is a worn, discouraged, thirsty soul. If we do not learn to put our masks aside, how will others know our need, and how, when God brings us through a trial, will others be able to see His good works and glorify Him?
The memory of all those sweat suit costumes makes me smile, but it also reminds me how important it is to let others see us, not as we wish they would, but as we know we are…for it is in this way our God can best be seen and glorified.
Paul could have put on a mask so others did not know he was physically weak, but instead he shared God’s response to his struggle.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well contented with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)