When we care about how others see us, we often fail to recognize the God-given gifts we were born to express.
I’ve heard it said that hypocrisy occurs when people are more concerned about their image before men than God. What a brilliant statement. Let’s think about first impressions.
If you are honest with yourself, you are quite careful when meeting someone initially. Being unaware of their boundaries, sensitivities, or proclivities, we inhibit parts of ourselves to mitigate our potential to offend. Where the danger lies, corroborated by that paraphrased statement above, is that we submit to multiple judges, not just One.
Because of this, we are bound to redact and omit. We even do that in the mirror, accentuating our most favorable characteristics and minimizing our ‘mishaps’ (my right side is my good side). Now those who are unabashedly ‘themselves’ are polarizing figures (think Kanye West).
It’s not the norm because the fear of ridicule and alienation has been legitimized by experience. It’s part and parcel of a society: a group of individuals living together invariably delineate and exclude, by virtue of accepting something else. Those who agree, commune; those who don’t, part.
Recently, I finished a book by renowned author Timothy Keller entitled “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness”. The challenge was simple yet profound: to remember that only One opinion matters because it alone is founded in impeccable truth. I remember being stricken with the same notion in the midst of rigorous academia.
I’ve always felt pressure to live up to expectations, mainly as a consequence of how well I’ve performed. I thought “well the precedent is set” so there was no escape from this need for ‘measurable’ achievement. The pronouncements placed on me for particular pursuits caused me to abandon passions in order to seek wider acceptance.
Now I’ve found that our purpose is often rooted in our passions because they were deposited purposefully. The deposit was made to be dedicated. The exploration of these creative conduits was meant to exhibit the incredible creativity of the Creator, Who has granted each person with at least one unique interest.
Many times, we can be our harshest critic and that’s after we establish that we “don’t care what anyone else thinks”. We limit ourselves by only living for ourselves just as much as if we lived for the approval of our peers. He posits that if we begin to value God’s perspective not only above our own but truly regard it as the only verdict, we would free ourselves from the obligations and stresses that weigh us down. We would find contentment because our reliance would be on One with solely good intentions toward us.
Let’s think about that.