One of the first things people inevitably noticed about my son, Thomas, is his ears. Not his actual ears, but the ears connected to his Mickey Mouse baseball cap he received as a souvenir from a friend’s trip to Disney World. At first he hated his hat and took it off every time we put it on his head. Somewhere along the way, it became part of his getting ready to leave the house routine. If we told him, “Put on your shoes,” he’d also grab a jacket and his Mickey hat unprompted. Now, he wears it all the time. When we’re in a store, strangers will ask him, “Who’s on your hat?” Other little kids will see the hat and gasp, stare with wide-eyed awe, or even chirp, “Mickey” and point him out. It’s a magical hat that seems to draw people to Thomas.
After chatting with a man about the ears in Smart and Final a few weeks back, Matt said, “You have to write about the hat.” Since we have so many interactions with people, it made sense, but I wasn’t sure what I’d write. I started paying attention as I watched him interact and as I interacted with scripture.
Thomas and his Mickey hat reflects the calling Paul gave Christians in Colossians 3. We’re commanded to take off the things of this world and to instead put on characteristics befitting a Christ-follower. The wording is just like taking off and putting on clothes. The internal working of the Holy Spirit should be evident as evident as the clothes we wear. This isn’t a simultaneous process. Just as Thomas didn’t like wearing the hat at first, it takes us a while to get used to being different kinds of people. Our natural habits nudge us towards evil desires or things that once ruled our lives. Learning and living a new way takes time. The beauty is that over time, those old things don’t fit any more. We outgrow our worn out, dirty clothes and exchange them for radiant ones. Our new natural habits become the things Jesus calls us to do as the Holy Spirit empowers us and changes us.
The other thing I realized is that it’s common to see Mickey ears all over Disneyland. They sell them there and it’s socially acceptable (encouraged, even) to wear them. It’s only because Thomas wears them to the grocery store, the park, and every other place we go that people notice. He doesn’t even care whether they match the rest of his outfit; they always go with him. It’s easy to be a Christian at church or at home, but much more complicated when we are other places. Thomas’ ears remind me that Jesus intends for us to stick out in the world. We’re supposed to be evidently Christians everywhere we go. When we’re radiating Christ, it’s actually a good thing. Just like Thomas’ ears brighten people’s days, so does the mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience evident in a Christ follower.
My prayer is that I’d grow in courage to be conspicuous. I also pray that Thomas would continue to feel comfortable sticking out, but as he matures, may it be for God’s glory. Amen.