Meeting the chameleons of life

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
Have you ever noticed that when one is around a certain group or type of people, they often begin to take up their ways, mimic their actions, drink and party with the best of them, and begin to neglect other good things in their lives? If they are in church, they may be moved to tears and even raise their hands in praise and sing loudly, and they know the words to every song and hymn. We all make mistakes from time to time, but I am referring to practiced or repeated behavior. I am in the mix with many different types of people because of my employment through the years, from writing their stories, from the neighborhoods where I have lived, and in my church associations. I enjoy the youngsters, the dreaded teens, and the young adults, but I also find my place with the retired, elderly, and infirm. This doesn’t even include family and close friends of a lifetime. I am a people person and genuinely enjoy being around different kinds of people.

One good woman comes to my mind as I write this column looking out over the calm waters of the bay. One on one, this lady is sweet as can be, kindhearted, helpful, and a faithful friend. She has one major personality flaw that I have witnessed many times over the last ten years or so. She is like a chameleon, often described as the “quick-change artists” of the animal kingdom. These little critters amaze me in the fact that they can alter their skin color to blend into their environment. If they are found on a brown limb of a tree, they become brown or tan. If they are resting in the green grass, they can become green. If they are on concrete, they go lighter and almost match perfectly the gray-beige color.

BCH-Meeting the chameleons of lifeShould you put a piece of blue or pink material down on the ground, they can slowly become blue or pink. Some that have studied much more than I have say the color changing is not so much to avoid predators as I have always heard, but to display mood and temperament. They are stating with the color changing what they are feeling at the moment. They want to be like others and to have others be like them.

I found this study interesting and determined in casual research that there are least seven animals that can alter their natural color pigmentation for whatever reason. There is even a fish that can hide in deep water by changing his color to suit his environment. It is written that the fish does it to keep from being eaten by bigger predators and enemies of the deep. His changing color can keep him alive.

My biggest problem or concern with this type of person is, “How do we know what they will be on any given day of the week, or if they have changed their personality and character to meet the projected needs of a group they are with at the moment?” It is difficult for me to find even footing in a relationship like this, and if I find it hard, what about them? I think it would be very difficult for me not to be me. I cannot imagine having to remember to talk a certain way, dress in a manner that the group chooses, or hang out at places that would make me uncomfortable. I would rather take my stand, and not be constantly moving, so that folks know what to expect from me at any given time we should see each other.

After looking at my friend for several years, and lifting her up in prayer, I have come to the conclusion she is not really very happy on the inside. She appears to me to still be looking for that acceptance and approval that we needed as teens. It is as though she wants so badly to “fit in” with whichever crowd she has chosen for the day that her life is constantly undergoing change and pretense. Her colors are often pretty on the surface, but I wonder what she is feeling on the inside and how well she is coping with life.

The Book of James gives us such good, practical advice about living. I thought of one of my favorite verses in this book while I was writing. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6) And, Verse 8 of the same chapter teaches, “A double-minded (or man or woman that vacillates or changes) is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or


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One Response to “Meeting the chameleons of life”

  1. Ginger Bragg Doster says:

    Such an interesting article…… thanks Brenda

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