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The give and take of trick-or-treat


The Life Less Traveled


October 16, 2013
One of the worst moments of childhood is the day you realize you're too old to trick-or-treat. It creeps up on you subtly. One year you're scared the big kids are going to take your candy, the next year you notice nobody is bigger than you.

At school, you're afraid to bring it up. Some of your friends are talking about going out and playing pranks. Others are making fun of the kids who are buying costumes. Still, there's the silent majority who don't know what to do. Sure, you're growing up, but who wants to give up all that free candy? Who wants to miss out on masks and colored hairspray and the cool stuff that goes with it?

If only the government would set a legal limit, things would be simpler. We have an age for driving, an age for drinking, even an age for retirement. Would it kill Congress to establish a trick-or-treating age and put all of those confused tweens out of their misery?

If you or someone you love is in the midst of this dilemma, let me offer some help. Here are seven tips to help you know when you're probably too old to be trick-or-treating:

You're at least a foot taller than every kid on the block.

Every time you say "trick-or-treat" your voice cracks like Peter Brady's.

You drive yourself from house-to-house.

You decide to save money by wearing your prom dress.

Your Duck Dynasty costume doesn't require a fake beard.

Your wife makes you share any chocolate you get with her.

You're dressed as your favorite Bee Gee.

If any of those describe you, maybe it's time to rethink your Halloween plans.

Eventually, most of us make that transition from being the one taking candy to the one giving it away. It's all part of growing up. Children are takers. Adults are givers. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. Kids depend on adults to provide for their needs. Mature adults are others-centered.

Unfortunately, some people never make it past the taking stage. Even though they may not dress up in a costume and hit the streets with a plastic pumpkin every Halloween, they live their whole lives as if they're trick-or-treating. Relationally, financially, even spiritually, they are takers, and they act like the world owes them something everywhere they go. Selfishness is hard to outgrow.

As much as we all like to think of ourselves as generous, we've all had our taker moments, where we've made life about how much we can get instead of who we can bless. It's in those moments we miss the best life has to offer.

It's like a wise king once wrote, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (NIV, Proverbs 11:25) In other words, in the grand scheme of life, it's much more satisfying to be the grown-up handing out the candy than the awkward middle-schooler still trying to take it.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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