If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” 1 John 1:6
Dippity-do dah, dippy day, my oh my, what a wonderful day! I joined the Air Force back in 1972 and in so many ways it was a different world. At that time longer hair was still very much in vogue. It seemed the only guys with shorter haircuts were either born in the 1920’s or in the military. I was the latter.
It was also a different day in the way people view the military. The country was coming out of the Vietnam era and sadly many saw veterans and the active military in a dark light. I can well remember walking around town and getting the “one of those” look. While I was never ashamed of being in the military, in fact, I was proud to serve, I did want to be cool—part of the in-crowd and short hair just wasn’t in. But you know the old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Hello Dippity-do.
It’s funny, I don’t remember anyone else doing it nor do I remember how I started. I found this hair stuff called, “Dippity-do.” It was a gel like product and depending on how much you applied, it would make your hair stay where you put it. So I bought a jar and slowly I let the hair on the top of my head and sides grow out. I would wakeup in the morning and put this stuff, in fact a lot of this stuff, on my hair. I would comb it kinda on top of my head and toward the back. The effect was—well, effective. The funny part is when this stuff dried out it made my hair as solid as a rock. Of course, my mom always said I had a hard head.
I found that I could have the required white-wall around my ears and have all this hair glued down to the top of my head. When I got off work, I would go take a shower, wash this stuff out and believe it or not have enough hair to totally cover my ears. I looked like any other guy in the early 1970’s. Even as I write this I’m saying, “What?” But believe me it worked. I looked like a military guy during the day and a regular off-the-street guy at night. Looking back, it was weird.
Even stranger I worked in the command section of my squadron and to show how effective my ruse was, no one said anything. It looked, and I guess was, regulation. I remember one day walking in the local mall and coming straight toward me was my squadron commander, Major Hobbs. We passed within five feet of each other and he didn’t even recognize me. Yup—G.I. Joe by day and a 70’s hipster at night. Looking back there probably was a word for it. It was probably pretty hypocritical.
The word hypocrite means to “play the part” or to “wear the mask.” It was used to describe actors in ancient Greece who were one thing on stage and another off the stage. The one thing I remember is that I always felt a certain amount of fear while doing this. There was always the “what if I get called in and don’t have time to plaster my hair down” thing. What if my commander and my first sergeant saw me and did recognize me? I knew they respected me and what would happen to that respect? It’s the feeling you get when you are one thing one time and another thing later.
Well, finally I figured it wasn’t worth it and I’ll tell you that story another time, but the bottom line is I went and got a regular haircut. Two things happened almost immediately. First, I felt free. The fear of the wrong person seeing me at the wrong time was suddenly gone. It was like a weight was taken off my shoulders. The second thing that happened was I discovered that in spite of what the culture said, I was proud to be in the Air Force and that haircut identified me as part of a special family and team. It wasn’t something to be ashamed of…it was something to be proud of. And the best part, the girl I was dating, who I later married, thought I was even cuter. Now for the funny part. I have been out of the military now for 36 years and I never, not even once, grew my hair out. I decided I like shorter hair. More than that…I decided I like being real.
So, what about you? What is it in your life where you “wear the mask?” What is it in your life where you have decided to pretend—to be something you aren’t? While you find that in every aspect of life, sadly it’s also common in the Jesus follower world. People say one thing and do another—people who act one way on Sunday and another the rest of week. If I learned anything from my Dippity-do world is that authenticity beats a plastic mask every time.
John, one of the guys who followed Jesus in the Bible, said it pretty well. He said, “If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” In other words, if we say we are one thing and really are another—we are just living a lie. It is better to be real than fake. It is better to be authentic than counterfeit. I may have fooled my commander that day but I never fool God when I choose to be one thing in public and another in private. But the one thing I love about God is that He never rejects me. He is never ashamed to call me His child. I can always rest in Him and more than that, He can handle who I am—Dippity-do and all. He’s got this.