A friend of mine is a police officer and, due to odd circumstances, I happened to be present as he spoke with two men who claimed to be victims of an armed robbery. The interesting part of their story is that they claimed to have been robbed by someone that they owed money to for marijuana. Both of the men were rather large in stature and I knew, based on past conversation, that at least one of them had a long history with the local police department for various reasons and that both of them have served significant jail time.
Throughout the course of the discussion, both men alternately got up from the steps they were seated on and paced around in the corner of the parking lot where the discussion was taking place. As an observer I noticed that each time one of them got up, my friend adjusted his posture in relation to their positions and movement. When discussing this later he noted that he was intentionally moving in a manner to keep the gun he had on his side positioned away from the men he was questioning.
Nothing abnormal happened during or as a result of the interaction between the two men and my friend, but, based on the potential risk of a situation in which the character and intentions of those involved were not clear, a defensive and alert posture on the part of the police officer was justified for his protection.
As a Christian, I’ve developed an authentic appreciation for people who interact with me in a sincere, authentic, and transparent manner. Likewise, I have grown to recognize the value of transparency as a meaningful virtue to strive for in my own life. Ultimately I would love to be completely free from the multiple postures, poses, and masks that I don depending on the situation. The person that I present to students when I’m at school is different from the person that I present to my long-time friends when I visit my hometown. The man that I embody as a father to my daughter is different from the man that I am when I yell at the driver in front of me for going to slow.
Unfortunately, the part of me that seems apt to come to the surface in any given situation is the one who, due to stress or anxiety, sacrifices adherence to the main laws that Jesus mandated (love God above all and others as yourself) by lashing out with a terse comment or scolding.
It is this volatile, ever-shifting balance of emotions, desires, focus, and personal impostors that rule my daily life and the impressions that others have of me. It is only when, by some grace of God, that I actually commit myself to, showing up in quiet open-eared prayer in the dark and when all is silent. Then, in humble repentance, I rest and, for just a few moments in the course of a day that is spent continually adjusting my posture to adapt to circumstances, I become transparent. It is only during those moments were all of who I am synchronizes into one and, while God knows who I am at all times, I become reminded of who I am regardless of the circumstances that cause me to assume various postures throughout a day.
My prayer today and for the foreseeable future will be to find balance between my personal responsibility to function in the various roles that I have taken on in life (e.g., father, husband, teacher, friend), protecting the interest of those who depend on me, and a sincere and humble transparency that allows others to see not only my need for God’s direction, but, also true acceptance of His grace.
“Most of man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked…We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”