I used to think hypocrites were the worst. Give me the truly honest person any day – the person whose words and actions always line up.
I’d rather have the person that outwardly rejects faith than the person who says he believes, but his life reflects something very different. How could I listen to someone whose actions didn’t consistently reflect her words?
But an interesting thing has happened this past year in my life. Well, quite a few interesting things.
First, and most notably, I got married. After more than 33.5 years of singleness (and I was VERY single for the majority of that time), I’m now living my life daily with another person. Marriage has made me realize over and over again how often in the past I held back and didn’t fully show myself to people – even close friends and roommates who I lived daily life with. Often I would run away from situations if they felt uncomfortable or if conflict might ensue. I gave lots of “helpful” advice to others – which I really is much easier to give than live.
Becoming a wife (and stepmom to teen girls!) has shown me so much about myself. And if I’m honest, there are many times I don’t like what I see – many times when I find that I’m so far from living out the words I’ve spoken to others. There are so many times when I wonder why I’m not living what I say.
Another thing that has caused awakening is regular writing and journaling. I find myself asking the question – is what I’m saying true of me?
And the answer often seems – “sort of.” Often it may be what I hope to be true, but it might not be fully true.
And I’m left a fraud. A hypocrite.
And then I remember.
I remember those words I’d emblazoned across the top of my blog. Through the lens of grace. Those are words I continually need to emblazon across the top of my heart. I need to remember the lens of grace doesn’t just apply to how I see what’s happening “out there.” In fact, in order to be able to apply that grace “out there,” I first have to remember it applies to me.
That radical grace applies to me – the self-righteous hypocrite. It applies to the one who fails so often in what I hope to do or say or be. But I’m not defined by that failure.
And that realization is not one that should plunge me into despair, but makes me realize that I’m in as much desperate need of daily grace as “those hypocrites” I’m so quick to judge.* So maybe it’s not hypocrites who are the very worst – rather it’s those of us who can’t admit that sometimes we are.
* Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. Don’t get me wrong, clearly Jesus has a lot of harsh things to say about hypocrites. Perhaps another day, I will discuss whether or not our words and actions not lining up is true hypocrisy – because there is a degree which we all struggle for our words and actions to align. Hypocrisy is defined by pretense, pretending or the desire to keep up appearances. But in our everyday language, we often don’t differentiate and tend to call anyone whose words and actions don’t align “a hypocrite.”