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Life In Uniform

I recently blogged about my late night aerobics session with friends in the convention center hallway. One night later, I was faced with a similar dilemma. The difference was that most of my friends were done with their responsibilities a bit earlier than me. They were able to work out in the hotel exercise room (and had a lot of fun without me!). I wasn’t going to work out by myself in the hallway. In fact, I really wasn’t in the mood for my aerobics DVD at all, so I decided to walk inside. There was plenty of space if I looped throughout the building, taking several flights of stairs to add a challenging element.

I began walking before the skywalk, spanning across a couple city blocks, closed, so I started with a loop through the hotel and skywalk. After four laps, I had to adjust my route, cutting out the skywalk portion. I added a wider loop through the conference center, which included walking through the hallway of the previous night’s aerobics. Once again, the same security guard was sitting outside the main doors to keep a watchful eye throughout the night. His shift overlapped with two other guards’ shifts, so at least he had some company for a short time.

As I descended the stairs, I saw the three of them in a cluster of chairs in the hallway. Dressed in their uniforms, looking official…and playing with the beach toys we’d put out for a display hours before. In addition to beach balls and pails and shovels, we had water games, where you press the button, shooting a stream of air into the water and moving small pieces within the game. The goal of this one was to get rings onto spikes. The games were neon colors and shaped like fish. Seeing three grown men look up from child games as I approached made me laugh.

Sometimes, things just don’t seem to fit together.

I realized it was probably also odd for them to see me transition from my conference role, when I wore nice clothes and networked with people, to walking in workout clothes by myself.

I circled  several more times, and we had a brief exchange with each lap. I checked in to see how their games were coming along. They let me know I was making them dizzy. I let them know when I was done, so they wouldn’t be worried when I didn’t appear one more time.

When I returned early the next morning – once again dressed to impress – the main security guard was still there. Despite the fun and games, he was dependably guarding the area until we arrived. Despite my casual dress and workout, I had still shown up to work. We were doing our jobs, just infusing a bit of fun.

We can get so caught up in the seriousness of what we’re doing that we forget to find enjoyment. The uniform doesn’t completely transform the person. The uniform assumes responsibility, but there is personality, interests, and struggles that cannot be masked. You can look the part on the outside and not be the part on the inside. On the other hand, who you are on the inside typically begins to protude and show through every area of your life unless you’re strategically wearing masks.

What uniform do you wear – what role do you assume – that differs from who you really are? What adjustments do you feel you must make?

What is within you that you feel you don’t get the opportunity to live out loud? Or perhaps you’ve masked something for so long, you’re not sure how to remove the mask and reveal your true self?

If you completely lived your life inside out, what would your uniform look like and reflect?

The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live. Romans 13:3 (The Message)

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