During this Wednesday’s What Not let’s look at nature’s chameleon of color. What can we learn from our little lizard friend? Let’s see what he has to teach us as we view his beautiful hues displayed in a kaleidoscope of color.
Some of us may have a thing or two in common with Chamey.
The colorful little chameleon adapts in order to fit in with his surroundings. He camouflages who he is in order to protect himself from harm. Adapting is part of his survival mechanism.
For years I changed my colors to match the expectations of others. Often, I was not even aware I was adjusting my behavior. Like Pavlov’s dog, when behavior was rewarded, I continued to modify me to better meet the expectation of others.
I lost me in the MEeting of others’ expectation. I would blend in, so I would not stand out. I would blend in, so as not to be left out.
Life as a chameleon can be a vicious cycle of changing color, like an explosion of tie die swirled on a shirt. It’s messy and the rubber bands become restricting.
I wanted people to like me. I wanted to fit in. To do so, I felt I had to change who I was. Me? Be me? That would never be good enough! My colors would transition from yellow to orange to red to blue depending upon what would make someone else happy. Or what I perceived would make someone else happy.
Getting good grades, performing, and being a good girl were colors I wore for quite awhile. As a little girl, I loved school and worked hard. I was the town baby sitter and I had a paper route. At roughly age 10, I already had two jobs. I possessed signs of a workaholic in the making. Early imprinting that who you are is drawn on the page by what you do. Not true. But what I lived for a long time in my later years.
My room was immaculate as a child. This fact is rather laughable now. Oh, if you could see my room! My colors blurred and mutated more than a super hero’s powers after drinking a toxic elixir. Colorful clothes often explode all over my floor. I have long since decided to color outside of the lines on this whole neatness nonsense. I just can’t do it. Not anymore.
The desire to fit in was one of the reasons I started smoking as a kid. We moved right before my freshman year of high school, so it was a tricky time. I tried to make friends, but it was difficult. I couldn’t quite find my place and transitioned through several friend groups. I changed my colors from a good student who loved school to someone who choked down her first cigarette in order to look cool.
Later, I would venture into more than just cigarettes in an effort to fit in. I really had changed my colors. Crashing into a school-full of new kids can do that. No one wants to be alone even when they say “leave me alone”. It’s not how we are wired as humans. Everyone needs friends. It’s why we feel the need to change our colors to fit in.
Back then, I didn’t think I could stand out or would want to. I thought I needed to blend in like an artist who takes chalk or charcoal and softens the edges of an image. My colors didn’t quite match. I felt if I didn’t match others, I would never make it. I didn’t believe I would be accepted for who I was.
I know the truth today.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.—Romans 15:7
I am accepted. You are too.
All of this stuffing myself into someone else’s mold in order to please others caused me to morph into a person I wouldn’t recognize as me many years later. Losing me was gradual. Slowly, I became buried under layer upon colorful layer of others’ expectations. I imagine many of you might be able to relate to that sentiment.
As a spouse, what expectations are placed upon you? As a mom or dad, what expectations are placed upon you? As a son or daughter, what expectations are placed upon you? As an employee, what expectations are placed upon you? As a friend, what expectations are placed upon you? As a volunteer, what expectations are placed upon you?
Lots of colorful expectations, even inadvertently, can be added to our list of who we are and what we are to do.
Being a chameleon is not always a bad thing. Ask Chamey. When we change colors, we have new experiences along with the expectations.
Some of the changing of colors may also be a bit of how we are made. Trees change their colors. Sometimes, it’s natural to change our colors.
I can go with the flow in many instances. Don’t get me wrong. I have strong opinions. But those strong opinions can be juxtaposed against a willingness to try new things.
After all if I never put on a new color, I won’t know if it – by chance – is MY color. Maybe that color looks great with my complexion. Perhaps, it is just my color.
Although I haven’t done it in awhile, I love to boat. Hanging out in the warm sunshine, relaxing in the bow of a boat definitely is my color. Sunshine looks great on me! Fresh air and hair tangled from too much wind do bring out all my best colors. Had I not been Chamey’s chameleon cousin I would never have known I had a love of boating. Exposure to someone else’s hobby introduced me to the bliss of boating.
And if anyone would have ever asked me if I would become a runner – or an avid bike rider – I would have laughed in your face. Perhaps milk would have spewed out of my mouth as I could no longer contain myself in the hilarity of the moment. Who knew? Sharing my husband’s hobbies became a way to hang out with him. Now, I truly enjoy running and biking. Had I never taken those crayons out of the box I wouldn’t have finished my first half marathon last year. I wouldn’t know the sweet release of endorphins. Oh, who doesn’t love endorphins? What color do you think endorphins are?
I acquired a love for snowshoeing as a result of embracing white. Lots and lots of fluffy white snow accumulated this season. My philosophy on this: If you can’t beat Old Man Winter, join him! Coloring in white is quite peaceful. Pank, pank, pank goes the snow. Peace, peace, peace says my soul.
I learned a very interesting fact about chameleons. According to Naked Science Scrapbook, the outer layer of a chameleon’s skin is transparent. All the brilliant colors Chamey is able to display are only made possible because of his translucent skin.
How can we show the beautiful colors we have been given and create masterpieces only we can make?
We need to be transparent, like our little friend Chamey.
What does it take for us to become transparent?
Knowledge of the truth in God’s Word.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.—Romans 15:7
When we know we are accepted by Christ, it is significantly easier not to worry so much about the acceptance of others. In Christ’s book, I’m already part of the “in” crowd. If you’ve accepted Him into your heart, so are you.
Vulnerability is another key ingredient.
When we open ourselves up, we will get hurt. I can almost guarantee it. It recently happened to me. I was extremely vulnerable as I shared something personal God had been walking me through. I got a selfish, hurtful response on the other side of my story. Actually, I was stunned. When I am silenced, that speaks volumes. You could have heard a pin drop.
At that point I had a choice to make. Would I allow this person’s response to limit my willingness to open myself up in very naked ways? No!
I am not supposed to change my colors based on someone else’s response to who I am and what I might be going through. The thing I know is the other person’s reaction is not about me. And even if it were, I can’t control how another person responds. Nor can you. I can pray for that person, but I’m not here to change his or her mind.
It’s very worth it to be vulnerable and show our true colors. The reward far outweighs the risk.
Chamey agrees with me.
Did you know we misunderstand chameleons? We do.
Chameleons also change their colors as a signal to stand out verses blend in.*
Chameleons aren’t always attempting to camouflage themselves, hiding from who they are as they blend into their surroundings. No. Chameleons change their colors in order to make themselves stand out too.
Chameleons are characterized by layers of pigment in yellow, red, blue, and brown that release and blend together in order to stand out. Like a peacock, they use their coloring to attract a mate.*
In addition, the chameleon’s colors he displays signal his mood.*
Oh, wouldn’t that be helpful to have? Honey, I’m feeling red today. You might want to tread cautiously. Or, as a matter of fact, you might want to hang out with your buddies until you see me turn a shade of purple!
When we are transparent, we are showing our truest selves to others. In that vulnerable place, we learn who really loves us for the colors we display (even the angry red ones) – the ones that are uniquely ours, and so are very valuable to us.
After all, if someone likes us for colors that are not ours, do they really like us? Or do they just like the idea of us, who they think we are?
When I first showed my husband my true colors, when I let him really see me verses the person I could conveniently project, it was frightening. But here’s the thing, that man knows me. He really knows me. He has seen me laugh until my stomach hurts. He has seen me cry a torrent of tears. He has seen me grieve great losses, which is one of the most vulnerable places I have ever allowed anyone to enter into. That man loves me for all my colors. That is significant. That is worth every ounce of vulnerability I have had to step into.
So while we can get hurt for being transparent, we also can receive the greatest blessings by being who we really are.
This song was coursing through my brain earlier today. It’s the inspiration behind this post. I feel like God was speaking to me through it. (This might make some of you giggle. God inspires through Cyndi Lauper? Apparently!)
Perhaps, the song will speak to you too. True Colors. You might want to watch the video as well as listen. The person who put the video together included some words of inspiration.
It’s hard to take courage. … But I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show. Your true colors. True colors. Are beautiful like a rainbow.
But Jesus immediately said to (the disciples): “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”—Matthew 14:27 NIV (added for clarification)
QUESTIONS & ACTIONS
- If you had to select a color to signify who you are, what would it be and why?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how easy is it for you to be vulnerable?
- How can you show more of your true colors to others?
- How might showing your true colors impact your life?
*https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=9fROJxN4MK8, accessed 3/25/2014.