Monday, January 26, 2009

The Trouble with Transparency

I'm not sure about you, but this New Year has brought with it some exciting changes and challenges in my life.  For starters, I have realized exactly how divergent my two aspects of my life have become.  I realized that what I feel in my heart had become torn from what I think with my mind.  In fact, this separation has been, probably for a good part of my life, the reason why I am viewed as passive aggressive.  I can think quickly and give nice, pat answers to things, but as a decompress that moment, my heart and mind take more time to process.  Suddenly I am faced with the interesting dilemma that what I had said or agreed to do is no longer inline with how I truly feel.

I'm not sure if I'm alone in this department or not.  One thing I know, is that I prayed from my spirit that my heart would be "true".  I've discovered now that this means an alignment of what I feel and how I act.  The trouble is that this is harder to do than it seems!  Sometimes we feel incredibly upset at someone and want to lash out at them.  Do we repress those feelings? Do we simply communicate with our lips what is overflowing in our heart?  What if we hurt people? How do we handle them?

The answer is simple.  To become transparent and live a life of integrity and authenticity.  And while the answer is simple to say or write in a blog post, the living of this simple truth is less than simple.  I want to look at transparency and how it applies to our lives in modernity.

Transparency is a term that our society will fast need to come to grips with.  As the information era progresses, and social networking venues increase, our awareness of each other is multiplied.  Each day, I get updates from good friends form my entire life, as well as cries for help from complete strangers.  I see embarrassing pictures posted and inner secrets shared through song and poetry and blog posts.  I can chat with them in real time from across the global.  I feel like I know these people better than I ever could have in real life.  Sounds like a good thing right?  Well, yes and no...

Last weekend some fellow high school classmates had a mini reunion.  I desperately wanted to go, but had already made other plans.  As I was looking through the pictures of people, I saw a few people tagged in the photos without Facebook accounts.  I friended the girl who posted the pictures and asked her if they had Facebook accounts.  I wanted to contact the one girl since we sang together in chorus and Madrigals.  But my new acquaintance informed me that she does not have a Facebook account because she is a teacher and it is frowned upon in education.

Then I take a look at so many in the younger generations that have no problem living their lives and exposing their deepest most hearts on the web in places like MySpace and Facebook.  Then parents join these social networks and freak out by the content and level of expression their children express.  Even my own wife has had this issue.  She may have a bad day, or have a deep and dark thought which she expresses through Twitter.  Inevitably, her mom (also on Twitter) will call her immediately to see if everything is alright.  The more I witness this interaction, I realize that sharing these things isn't wrong, it's just that our parents are experiencing incredible culture shock.  They have never been witness to this level of transparency.  They have never lived in a society constructed of so many glass walls.

But transparency is the key to living an authentic life of integrity.  So often, the Christian church has been seen as utter hypocrites.  Why?  Because they portray a level of perfection and polish that is most of the time a facade.  We all mess up and are all tempted.  But if we go out and have a little too much to drink and cover that up and look like the perfect church goer on Sunday, are we not a hypocrite?  Our message can only last so long when our heart and actions are not in synch with our beliefs.  Our hearts are not "true".

There are two options to resolve this conflict.  The first would be to stop drinking and live a life of perfection.  Of course we all know that this is just about impossible, if not for drinking but the countless other vices that we all work against like soaring gravity or holding back the hands of time. In fact, the bible pretty much sets us up for this failure. Well, not intentionally, but more or less clarifies the point that we will fail. The law shows us how unworthy and unrighteous we are.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- we are all professional screw-ups.

So what is the alternative?  Simple, it is to live an honest life.  That we try to do what we ought, but not hide that which we naught.  I'm not going to be ashamed of what I've done.  I laugh about it.  I don't condone certain activities.  I tell people where I have messed up and encourage them against traveling the same roads.  We are all in this life together, why can't we simply learn from each other instead of pretending that we have everything together?  I think this is the truth that the younger generation has brought to the wise.

Moving forward, I plan to speak what is in my heart and do what I say.  I have been writing poetry as an attempt to release those inner feelings at the risk of hurting or concerning others. But this is me, and if you are my friend, or if you love me, you need to love all of me.  The polished and perfected parts as well as the rough and tarnished spots.  In all, in shapes who I am as a living, breathing, organic human being and not a plastic doll of a man.  Be prepared to discover all of me, and I hope that you do the same.  Together we can share in our humanity, and learn to become better people in Christ.


Jim said...

Good post. I don't totally agree with everything you wrote, but I think that it is important to share your downfalls with those you are closest to.

But if we go out and have a little too much to drink and cover that up and look like the perfect church goer on Sunday, are we not a hypocrite?

There is a difference between covering up something and not trying to advertise sin (which could easily look like bragging).

Thanks for sharing :)

Stephen Pick said...

just dont try to cover it up and u wont be a hypocrite. if u go to church, why is it assumed that your trying to cover it up? if u feel like the church is a cover up then u must feel like what u did was wrong. so u need to decide wheather you think what u did was wrong and worth needing to be covered up or is it ok and u just need to be open and not hide it.