Life has a lot of classrooms. Some of them are easy to recognize and we go there specifically to learn, but in my experience, the best classrooms have been everyday events when I don’t expect a lesson.
Many of them have included the smallest teacher I know - my son. The way he approaches the world is different from me. The way he expresses himself is uninhibited and honest. Truth comes out more simply.
For example, a few years ago, my son wanted to be Darth Vader for Halloween. So, I bought him a black cape and a mask. I made a chest plate using a picture from the movie, to get all of the buttons and knobs in the right place. I even modified the mask, so it wasn’t uncomfortable to wear.
Two days before his first Halloween party that year, I had my son try on the costume. It looked really good! And I told him so. He was all excited and he said “Let me see!”
I helped him up on the counter in his bathroom, so he could see himself in the mirror. He looked and then screamed. He jumped down off the counter, ripped the mask off his face and went into the other room crying. “What on earth just happened,” I thought. He knows it’s just a mask, not the real thing. He knows it’s not actually a bad guy, it’s himself.
All of us at some point in our lives, realize that there isn’t really a boogie man or a monster under the bed or a devil on our shoulder whispering in our ear…it’s just us. I imagine everyone reacts differently to that realization, but I would be willing to bet that most of us do not find it a relief.
There is no one to blame. There is nothing to run away from. You can’t run away from yourself. You can’t fix yourself - you were created, not manufactured. The parts are all there from day one and you can modify and enhance them; tack things on and redirect the emphasis from one thing to the next, but you are…you. Always and forever.
How do you live with that? Even if you love yourself, there are always going to be things you dislike. More importantly, the things that challenge you most are not going to come from outside forces. They are going to come from within. The same place you will find your strength.
Luckily, the Being who created you knows you better than you know yourself. He doesn’t want you to fix anything or lack anything or become anything else. He wants you to stay close to Him and listen for His still, small voice. He will tell you what to do and He will protect you from anything that will harm you.
The only evil in this world is the absence of God. The only way to conquer that evil, is to stay close to Him.
So, my son and I talked about why he was scared and made a last minute change, with the help of a friend. My adorable and menacing Darth Vader became a happy, realistic Luke Skywalker and lived happily ever after. No end.