We live in a subdivision. When we first moved in and my oldest kids were little, I was very aware when I would raise my voice (yell!) at them. I soon found myself closing the windows if I had to have a word with them because there were always neighbors nearby. I did not want the neighbors to hear me when I got angry.
Now--don't get me wrong, my kids do wrong and need corrected. I am not saying correction and discipline wasn't--and isn't still needed. But my anger is not often the righteous part of that discipline. I began to realize how easily I could become more concerned for my own reputation than for the state of my children's hearts. i.e. not truly curbing my anger, but instead just closing the windows on my anger so others wouldn't hear it.
It dawned on me one day how hypocritical I had become. Why was I closing my windows when I scolded my children? It was because I was not comfortable having my busy neighborhood hear me raise my voice. I wanted to keep up an appearance.
We can go to great lengths to keep up appearances, can't we? We start to gain the esteem of others and find a certain pressure to maintain it. It might be that others label us a "perfectionist", or a "workaholic", or a "crunchy mama", and so we begin to aim toward that label and uphold what others think of us rather than cultivating integrity in our hearts, in the private spaces, before God.
As I became convicted of this sin, I began to ask the Lord to help me tackle this hypocrisy. I prayed God would help me "live with my windows open". Rather than closing my windows so I could continue in my private anger, I began to address my anger and then deliberately keep the windows of my home open in faith. My open windows began to hold me accountable to my anger and failings. Others were listening. Others were watching. But who I was in my heart became the issue I wanted to address: if I could win there, then it would not matter whether anyone heard or not: I would have integrity before God.
I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
So much of the Christian life is about remembering and relearning lessons we may have been through before, isn't it? I wish I could say I learned this lesson years ago, so I now have that one beat. But no, I sadly find it creeps in again and again. And so I must address it again.
I saw a quote last month from Elizabeth George that won't leave me:
"Who you are in your home is who you are."
Just sit with that thought. It's so challenging.
Thankfully, God has helped me handle anger better through the years, though I will always have work to do. For me now, I find I can easily offer my kindest smile to others but all too often a scowl and my jowl to my own children. The people I am called to love and serve fore-mostly I can be the most unlovely towards. This can easily be the pattern of our flesh...keeping up appearances.
Here are some questions that challenge and stretch me. Perhaps they will help you too?
How might an outsider describe me? Would my family's description match that? Does my family know first-hand the love and faith I seek to exhibit to others, or do they get my leftovers and the scraps of me? In what area do I need to cultivate integrity before God in my heart? Where in my life do I need to tackle hypocrisy and "live with the windows open"?
Have a blessed day!
In Christ's love, erika