Fitting In and the Chameleon
As we sat in our lawn chairs in the backyard enjoying the late afternoon sun, I was startled by the sound of splashing water. I quickly turned to see what was making that noise since our little Pekin ducks, which had been playing in the wading pool, were now out and walking around the back of the lot.
The source of the noise was quickly seen to be our dog Lucy, jumping around and splashing noisily in the pool like she was a duck.
Lucy was our loved Corgi that had come upon the scene a
Lucy quickly appointed herself mother and protector of our ducks and she was always with them, guarding them from the occasional coyote and from the hawks which flew overhead peering down at a possible duck dinner! Lucy seemed to love mothering and watching over the little quackers and the praise we gave her for being such a good guardian.
On this day, she had been watching the ducks as they did their joyous “duck things”, frolicking and diving underwater, then surfacing and shaking, flapping their stubby wings, swimming, diving back down underwater, and repeating the process. As the ducks finally got out of the pond and wandered away, apparently little tinges of jealousy started pulling at Lucy. When we looked back at the pond, there she was in the pool, ducking under the water, getting up shaking, diving again into the water mimicking everything that the ducks had done except her quack quack sounded more like a bark, bark.
She wanted to be accepted and loved like the ducks were, I guess, even to the extent of changing her behavior and normal inclinations since she had never shown an affinity for water. She must have thought those actions caused us to love those ducks and she wanted part of that love!.
In my own experience I have faced the temptation to ”Fit In”, to go outside of what I knew was right for me, to act contrary to what I believed in and what I stood for, and what I knew about myself. I wanted to “Fit In” and not stand out as different from the group as an “odd ball”, to not draw attention to myself, my ideas, my principles. How much easier it seems to be “one of the gang” than to stand for something. It wasn’t very comfortable but it was EASY. Doing the wrong thing can be Easy but it isn’t very satisfying or comfortable.
I remember a helpful slogan I heard years ago that said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.
In recalling some of those moments from years past I was reminded of the story a friend, Howard, told me long ago. He cautioned me about being a Chameleon and explained how Chameleons change their color to “Fit In” with their environment. He made it pretty clear that I should avoid that temptation and stand up for what I believed in, that I should reflect on the outside the qualities that I cherished in my heart.
While appearing to be one thing while you are actually something else inside, just to “Fit In”, is good for a lizard, but it is often a treacherous trap for humans
In a world where the lure of drugs and alcohol, the temptation to shortcut, stretch the truth, discuss with heated temper politics and social issues, to gossip about and show no respect for others… so many temptations, we sometimes edge more toward being the Chameleon, perhaps hiding our true nature and feelings rather than standing firm on principle.
The Bible contains many wonderful examples of Chameleon disguises versus standing firm with honesty and integrity, and also shows that things don’t change very much from century to century, as the same temptations we face were present in Jesus' time as well.
In the lifetime of Jesus many people undoubtedly discussed disease, blindness, physical disability, deafness, leprosy, immorality, and many other issues. Jesus didn’t fall in with the group and talk about how terrible it was that these diseases were present, didn’t spend time criticizing the government nor gather with the group to pass judgment and cast stones at sinners. . He stood firm with his understanding that God, who he understood to be Divine Love, the Mind that created ALL, did not create evil, disease or death, but Life Eternal. He didn’t worry about being “different” and healed and uplifted those in need in spite of those who resisted or ridiculed him.
In contrast, Judas, one of the 12 disciples, typified the Chameleon in the most hurtful way. While in his chameleon outfit he was outwardly loyal to Jesus, but he betrayed him to the soldiers, an attempt to Fit In with the authorities. Matthew 26
And, even Peter, a loyal disciple who loved and was loved by Jesus fell into the trap. He wore the chameleon outfit when Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest, and tried to Fit In with those who claimed they did not know Jesus, and denied being a disciple. He was later so ashamed of his actions but he did prove that even those with high ideals and standards can fall victim to the lizard influence! Matthew 26
So, whatever the motive, we can and must drop the "act". Mary Baker Eddy in her Miscellaneous Writings sums up helpful guidance for the principled individual. Urging integrity and sincerity in each of our lives, she counsels: "The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same, — at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen.
He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, — full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means. He never shows us a smiling countenance while he meditates evil against us in his heart. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another. Miscellaneous Writings pp147
And so, Dear Lucy, your efforts were all for naught. Even though your attempts to Fit In were innocent enough, youdidn’t need to be a duck with stubby wings, web feet or a cute quack, quack. I loved you for who you were.
Just so, our dear Father/Mother God, loves each of us as we truly are, no frills needed, no change of costume or color, no false pretences about who we are. We can be ourselves, the spiritual self we were created to be… the individual reflection of Life, Truth and Love that are ours as God’s perfect image. As Jesus counseled: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. " Matthew 5