Dave and I have come full circle on the “how should Christian families handle Halloween” debate. As our children grew we processed through several phases: From dressing up and trick-or-treating (reserved acceptance), to participating in the biblically-based ‘Fall Festival’ at church (Christian alternative), to going to friends’ homes for parties (controlled exposure), to skipping the whole thing by taking the kids out to dinner (avoidance), then back to celebrating with family and friends, costumes and trick-or-treating (happy acceptance). We did not know what was the “right” thing to do so we simply did the best we could. Just as the kids were growing in “wisdom and stature,” Dave and I were also growing as disciples. Over the years, our kids changed, the opportunities changed, and our attitudes toward Halloween changed (more than once). What worked for our family when they were toddlers, was different than what worked during elementary, middle school and high school. We started with carefully walking the kids around the cul-de-sac and ended several years later with inviting family and friends over for Frito-chili-pie, then sending all the kids off to trick-or-treat on their own while the parents stayed behind to socialize and answer the door. This year, my 22-year old (who still loves cosplay) is throwing a murder mystery dinner party for her friends.
My Anxious Brain
My brain likes to trick me, and it’s good at it. If you have an anxious brain, like I do, maybe you can relate. My brain sends my body danger signals when there is no danger. My body believes my brain and reacts by initiating safety protocols of fight, flight, or freeze (along with physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, racing heart, nausea, paralysis, etc.). My clever brain also likes to trick my spirit. I used to assume my anxious and fearful feelings were the Holy Spirit trying to warn me of a threat. I would get on an airplane and think, these fools don’t even know we’ll probably be dead soon (and it was up to me to pray us all the way to a safe landing). Once Dave (my husband) and I left the kids home with popcorn and a movie. As we drove off, I remembered a story about a child who choked on popcorn and got brain damage. I was certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about this and I began to fret. Then something wonderful happened. A different thought slipped through a crack in my brain: What if I’m worrying about nothing? I prayed for their safety and then added, “Lord, if this is from you, please tell me. If it’s not, then help me forget about it. Replace my fear with peace.” I soon became distracted and had a lovely evening (nobody choked, either). That particular fear-thought-loop got broken. After that night, I started to “test the spirit” (so-to-speak) and ask the Lord to redirect worrisome thoughts that were not from Him.