September 24, 2014

Letting It Go

And lo, the spirit of reason and truth spake unto her, saying, "Guard yourself, for the time of Halloween costumes is upon you."

I'm not sure when it happened, but Halloween is not the low-key fun holiday I remember as a kid. No one spent $195.50 on a costume to look like a flamingo from head to toe. School parties had jugged Kool-aid to drink and cheap cookies. The amount of candy you raked in had to do with how many houses you were willing to visit. Now... my daughter wants to be Elsa, along with half the child population in the nation. My son wanted to be Yoda. I wished him luck. Then he wanted to be Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi from Episode III. Yes, he's particular.

The problem, my friends, is me. If I do something, I want to do it the right way. It has to meet certain standards, adhere to the ideal, meet a budget, and be darn-near fool-proof so my kids can get them on by themselves at school.

I found costumes that met the budget, the idea, and even pleased my kids (though my son is a Stormtrooper instead; he's happy about it). It was that I realized _I_ was irritated with them for being so easily pleased. Couldn't they see the workmanship was shoddy?! Didn't they know these costumes weren't good representations of what they wanted to be?! How could my offspring have such low standards?

No, the problem is me. If they're pleased, why am I displeased with their costumes? Why am I insisting that what they want isn't good enough for me? When did I suddenly see their lives as a report card for how I'm doing as a parent?

It takes a really poor costume for a kid to comment on how bad another kid's costume is. It takes very little for a parent to think, "Wow, that could have been done better." It also takes very little for a parent to think, "I didn't do NEARLY enough compared with that costume."

I will remind myself of the apostle Paul's words in Philippians 2:12-13:
"Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."

Work hard to show the results of my salvation... In other words, acknowledge deep within me that I need to Let It Go. Rejoice in the play and fun with my kids; don't allow myself to believe that striving for excellence in my kids' Halloween costumes truly matters at all in the long-range view. It doesn't.

I will also choose to be thankful I found an Elsa dress, even if it isn't exact. If I hadn't found one, I might have tried to make one, and there the temptation to go overboard on perfection might have been too much for me. My family wouldn't have seen me surface for weeks. I would have been researching costume design, dyeing fabrics... it wouldn't have been pretty. At all.

Lastly, I will choose gratitude for how God works in me to change my desires and choices, even in something so small as Halloween costumes.

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