Be as you wish to seem. ~ Socrates ~
We should all care to think more deeply about life and every moment within it. So many don’t though. For one; we’re too busy getting to the next moment. Two; as humans, we don’t live life at a slow enough pace that we even give much thought to moment to moment living. We barely give any real thought to the day-to-day aspects of our life. Too much becomes routine. What happens in the process is life is literally passing us by… and quite quickly.
We are living our lives at such a rapid pace. We miss so many opportunities to think more deeply about who we are and about how we want to be perceived. How do we want to be remembered when we are no longer here? Our legacy is attached to that. It’s not just about what we leave behind in the material or monetary form. It’s also what people; family and others, unbiasedly, will say about us when we are gone.
Not everyone leaves this world having been known completely by everyone that knew them. People tend to let others in on only what they want to. There are exceptions. Some do know us a little bit better. But, if you have lived your life genuinely being as you wish to seem, people do get to know the real you. To speak on you later; they will actually be quite accurate. That means you lived being your genuine self. The only issue with that is that you are content with whatever “genuine” is.
Honesty is just one example of a decision we make within a moment’s notice. It is a choice. It can and does impact our life for better or worse. Honesty vs. Dishonesty!
I’m a very honest person. It’s not an understatement to even say I can be brutally honest. That’s not something everyone can accept. It can hurt people if what I’ve said is taken the wrong way or too harshly. It’s not always easily immediate but there is responsibility to accept in order to be mindful of that. No-one every really wants to sacrifice good intention for a bad outcome requiring any degree of healing. It’s worth it to try not to let the latter become a reality unnecessarily. But yes; sometimes unavoidable, however unintended.
I do not embrace lying. I can’t stand blatant lying. I have zero tolerance for a liar. I have no appreciation whatsoever with anyone involving me in a dishonest conversation. I am always appalled by anyone who tells lies on another person. That level of comfort within one’s self, I just can’t understand or justify. Nothing about it is necessary. We, as humans, can be better than that.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t been subjected to it though. Time and time again; I have. It’s the being subjected to it that allows a person to realize their tolerance level. Mine just happens to be at zero. I can’t control the behaviors or decisions of others. It happens and it will continue to happen. Yet; every moment presents a choice to be honest or dishonest. I believe honesty is the best policy. For me anyway; it’s not at all pleasant listening to someone speak, know you hear a lie and they just keep on talking. You may or may not truly know how difficult that is.
A few years ago, in a conversation with a young lady about her upcoming college graduation, it was shared that her father, regardless of not being very active in her life, had received an invitation. There was some mention about having not been entirely honest with him about the exact number of invitations she actually had access to. Her mother chimed in saying, “Well, you gotta lie sometime”. I still remember my immediate feeling of cringing. My thought was, and I almost said it, “Well actually; no you don’t”.
I left it alone. For several reasons. The mom is a regular attendee and quite active in church. As was the case with her life, she’d raised her now college age daughter up with church being a strong part of her life. The grandmother, a pastor of a Christian church, was also present. Be still — Be silent! Admittedly, she’s better at that than I am. For some; it’s easy! For others; it’s practice.
The purpose for why we were in each other’s presence was to be present and supportive of the emotional well-being of someone who had just learned of a significant loss. Even under different circumstances, I would not have tackled that mindset. The pastor is fully aware of my stance on honesty. There’s a time and a place. Sometimes; there is no time and place. Sometimes, all that is likely guaranteed is that you will rub someone the wrong way by even speaking on something. They don’t see your response coming. That’s not their thinking. So; caught off guard, you’re more likely to sense an attitude, which really translates to being defensive. That’s not to say someone else wouldn’t be quite receptive. I don’t encourage it ever be before an audience where the message gets lost in embarrassment. If you mean well, you wouldn’t intend to do that.
Besides; who says your input is even required? Sometimes; people fix themselves. All on their own. I don’t encourage anyone be judged entirely by one situation or even habit. We all have different sides to us. That’s not to say, if it’s serious enough to you, that you shouldn’t reexamine what you think you have with a person. Regarding the woman I’ve spoken of here, I can tell you without a doubt, you’d truly like her if you met her. She’s a beyond good person on so many levels. But, I can also tell you I’ll now forever remember her different side. What she said was her honesty. That’s serious enough to me.
I write of my challenges with church and the people, which of course is the church. I know that what I feel and experience is not uncommon. Even a quick internet search will reveal so many concerns with church and pastors today. People are exiting out. Not uncommonly after many years, sometimes decades of attending the same church. Many are finding challenges in finding a church home that overall; meets what they expect, want, enjoy and love about the pastor and/or the congregation. As so many new churches surface, often small churches that struggle to grow, people are questioning intents and behaviors. Too many pastors continue to surface with proven allegations of inappropriate behaviors. It’s surfaced in the newer small, the long-standing medium and the seemingly quickly grown mega size churches. A primary reason people attend church in seek of spiritual growth. No-one wants to have experiences of disconnect, dishonesty or distrust. It can really have you rethinking what you believe in. It can definitely test your faith.
It’s healthy to address and even share things we struggle with. None of use are ever really alone. There’s always others who are going through the same or similar. The struggles I’ve had are with being a steady attendee without falling back for one reason or another. I’m often feeling challenged and have been for decades. I love church. But again; church is the people. It’s not the four walls and a roof. I struggle with the behaviors, denial and deceit I’ve witnessed throughout my adulthood. It’s so opposite my expectations and beliefs. I know of so many who attend regularly but leave me wondering. Wondering why; what’s still wrong after all this time? How’s that really working for them? Why is it I am aware of so many who do not act according to God’s way and His word? It is extremely difficult for me to attend, act blind to what I see, tune it all out and just receive what I need and want from attending.
Throughout my lifetime, I’ve had a good rapport with many pastors. One pastor has explained it to me this way. Church is like a hospital for people who are sick. They’re there because they need to be. They need to get well. They’re there to get better. It’s an explanation. Perhaps an accurate one. For me though; heartbreaking, none-the-less.
Then of course; my question (to self and over time shared with many) becomes, “Well how long does it take to become a better person, especially considering they are showing up and attending church on the regular?” I could see if, despite best efforts, a couple or even a few years, there’s still for whatever reason, work to be done; sort of to speak . But when it’s been decades and they’re still the same as if they just walked through the door for the first time last Sunday, yes; I struggle with that. I want to go to church and feel the overall vibe that everyone is a good person who just wants to be an even better person. A better human. And it shows! You can just feel it. And it’s all good.
I’m just being honest here. It’s my thing. My challenge! I try and try. I have yet to overcome the disappointment and trouble understanding the “how can they…” and the “why do they…” I own it! I truly struggle with it to the point of great interference with finding my best fit church. It seems no matter where I go, I see or discover something I know good and well is displeasing to God. Right there in the church and apparent to any members who attend, or even visitors if they visit enough times. No-one can change anyone but themselves. I get that.
I prefer a life void of individuals who have caused me to say things not necessarily intended to hurt their feelings. Like most; I’ve done it. Typically without hesitation; it’s been the speaking up for something I feel that deeply about. It’s also for deep matters of the heart. Hurting a child, mistreating an elderly person or defending the underdog. Something just gets blurted out. Since a young child, I’m known to instantaneously assist anyone bullied or abused. Overtime; I gained comfort in also doing so on my own behalf as well. Some of it stems from past relationships that were on their way out or already dissolved. I’d rather not have such human interaction. Those are the unhealthy relationships that we should all try to avoid or end.
I’ve had few people in my lifetime that I’m certain no matter what they tell me, it is always going to be the truth. Have I had a lot of honest conversations? Absolutely! Have I had a lot of always honest conversations? No! Am I ever given a choice in that? No! Do I choose them for the rest of my life? Absolutely No! My journey is my own. I want to have a say. It matters to me who tags along. Honesty is at the top of my list of qualifications.
Having a reputation for being honest carries weight. It is part of our genuine character. The world in general does not send the message that honesty even matters. Thinking more deeply about our life in terms of honesty is worth it. It’s like a check-in on where we are at this moment in time and how far we still have to go. We live in a society where people are less and less acting as if honesty even matters. But it does. Honesty translates to matters of trustworthiness, morals, ethics, integrity, genuine and so on. Our life often resembles our thinking. If you can think honestly, you can become honesty.
Don’t allow who you want to become, if you’re not there already, to be affected by what you see in others. We have to be mindful not to do that. No giving up. Life challenges and disappointments in other people, in and outside of the church, can make you feel why bother. Consider just continuing to work toward being a better you. Try not to allow other people’s choices to challenge your faith. It’s really all you can do other than not let them take up too much space in your head. For some of us, it’s often so much easier said than done. Just strive to be as you wish to seem. We can only work on who we are.
You’ve got the floor…
Is it important to you how people will speak of you when you’re no longer here? Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.