There has been something on my mind lately, and I hope I can put it to words effectively. I’ve always been a very independent person. Even as a child I … Continue reading Emotional Self-Sufficiency
The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.
Here’s the problem with Mr. Hazlit’s statement- are we not all basically walking hypocrites?’ Are we not all living lesser versions of an ideal life? Are we not all espousing greater virtues than we actually display? Is not the essence of successful human beings an aspiration for something greater than what they currently are?
And yet, few concepts are as inherently repulsive to modern audiences as hypocrisy. In the world where ‘being open-minded’ is essential the idea of a hypocrite who asserts one thing but does another is a cardinal sin. I know people that have been unable to commit to much in their life because of a fear of sinking into hypocrisy. These people seem to say “you can’t enter something unless it is a perfect moral fit, unless you can do it all the way”. I’ve seen people that the tiniest tinge of hypocrisy they give up and keep searching for something more authentic. Usually life ends up teaching them to be more practical and less ideologically pure.
“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”
Is not this a high standard for participation in life? Everything that is worth doing will challenge initial goals and presumptions. If we are not willing to humble ourselves and admit we may have overstated our initial claims, admit to a bit of hypocrisy, can we ever really learn anything?
“I was not a hypocrite, with one real face and several false ones. I had several faces because I was young and didn’t know who I was or wanted to be.”
Having a strict abhorrence for hypocrisy sticks people in one spot and never allows them to try on different ‘faces’, to see who they might be if they went another way. I’ve known people that started out the class clown and could never quite break free from that role. If someone has always been sweet do we not feel betrayed and saddened by an outburst? Would this not encourage someone to never be real and complicated because of a fear of the hypocrite label?
Even Jesus spoke about hypocrites, calling out the pharisees and sadducees, for preaching one thing and then behaving in an entirely different manner.
“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
I’ve been thinking about this topic because in many ways I feel like a walking hypocrite. I am an open book with my life and yet I find it almost paralyzing to deal with any kind of conflict. I am a romantic at heart and love pink, sappy movies and the whole idea of romance; and yet I am a realist that has a hard time with human physical affection and traditional feminine roles. I love living alone and espouse it’s virtues but I also thrive off of a wide circle of friends. I am the epitome of a goal-setter but goals often make me crazy with anxiety. I am incredibly independent and yet needy in a certain way. I hate being told what to do but I love mentors. I am a warm, happy (even smiling!) girl who also feels great anger and struggles to forgive. I could go on.
What do you think about hypocrisy? Where is the line between common, every man variety of hypocrisy and the type that Jesus warned against? When does it become repulsive and at the least irritating? Is it perhaps the vibrato with which a person declares their character (such as sounding a trumpet)? If someone is very fervent in their perfection do we hold their conduct to a higher standard? Probably but I think there is more to it than that. I think hypocrisy is the kind of thing that is easy to ignore in yourself but feel appalled by in others.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
So what can we do to be less hypocritical and more authentic? What do you think? My Dad is an extremely honest man who is totally comfortable in his own skin. He is also a man of constant self-examination. Meaning he wants to be better, he thinks about how he can do things better and then he does it to the best of his ability. He then is almost always happy with his effort.
Maybe being aware of your hypocrisy and striving to reduce is the key? Maybe a constant effort to purify our hearts and behaviors of negative tendencies makes those around us less likely to apply the label of hypocrite? Is this just the process of thwarting the natural man, making the hypocritical parts of ourselves smaller and less pronounced the older we get?
I wonder if the problem with hypocrisy is tied to judgement, either with ourselves or others. That we judge something to be negative or evil and yet we are not perfect ourselves? Perhaps hypocrisy itself is not bad, only when the ‘pot calls the kettle black’ in judgement?
“We are all hypocrites. We cannot see ourselves or judge ourselves the way we see and judge others.”
Jose Emilio Pacheco
Or are we as human beings diametrically opposed to balance? Meaning we have left brain/right brain mentalities that are by nature opposed. This creates conflict with our behavior. Maybe despite all we can do all of us are a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
“All of us have to be prevaricators, hypocrites, and liars every day of our lives; otherwise the social structure would fall into pieces the first day. We must act in one another’s presence just as we must wear clothes. It is for the best”
What do you think? How do you judge someone to be a hypocrite and how do you feel about your own hypocrisy? This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately and forgive me if the above post was a bit esoteric but it was just the way my mind has been contemplating the subject.
I would love your feedback and I promise I won’t find it a bit hypocritical! 🙂
I’ve mentioned before that I like to put documentaries on while I do boring projects because they keep me awake but don’t require my full attention- kind of background noise. Today I re-watched one of the best documentaries ever made called The Up Series. This is a series that started in Great Britain in 1964 which follows 14 kids every 7 years of their lives. In May they will be doing 56 Up. It is amazing to see the transformation of these individuals from little children to grandparents- the original reality TV.
As I was watching it today I couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of the subjects. They all hate the intrusion into their lives and I suppose that would be difficult but on the other hand, they have an entire nation who is interested in what they have to say. I have some people who are interested in talking with me and care for me deeply but its been a long time since someone was focused just on me (a selfish desire I know but there you go).
In an interview it is just you and the interviewer. There is something very appealing about that. I admit the idea kind of soothes my ego. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have someone taking notes on the things I’ve said or perhaps finding some truth in my words to make their life better. That must be a great feeling?
My family is a believer in discussion which I love. I am always totally open to a debate and love chatting it up on most any topic.
That said, it is so nice when someone just wants to listen.
In the spirit of the UP Series I am going to interview myself with similar questions and perhaps it might be helpful to you or instructive in some way. I am going to do this in 3 parts, first part childhood, 2nd part views on family/marriage, 3 views on politics/other. Feel free to submit those questions you’ve been dying to ask me all these years! 🙂
1. What is your memory of childhood? I had a dual nature as a child. A part of me was magical, floating, and whimsical. I loved to dance around the house to my Dad’s old Moody Blues album or to the Beach Boys. I loved my dolls and would spend hours coming up with elaborate ‘scenarios’ my girls could act out (usually involving some kind of orphan. I always wanted to be an orphan- sorry Mom and Dad!). I enjoyed being the leader and inspiring others.
Unfortunately I also remember a deep sense of frustration. I was often frustrated with being a kid, of never being right, never being taken seriously (especially true as a teenager). Judgements have also always been difficult for me to deal with. As a child, I was bullied which is an experience you never forget. I think there was always a side of me that thought ‘if only they knew the real me, they’d love me’ but that ‘real me’ is frustratingly difficult to put into words. I’m still working on that at 31.
In many ways I was an odd child because I craved attention but at the same time resisted affection. I can’t explain it but that’s the way I’ve always been.
2. What is a happy memory from childhood? There are lots. I have great memories of boating with my family. Whether it was Lake Powell or the Potomac River we spent many happy hours boating together. I’ve always loved the water and if I had been introduced to the ocean sooner I am sure I would have loved that but boating was a lot of fun.
I also have very happy memories of being read to every night by my Mother and/or Father. Even when we were old enough to read by ourselves my parents read to us consistently and this was very important to a late reader like myself. My parents also endowed me with a passion for learning that has helped me to find happiness throughout my life.
3. What do you think of as the happiest time of your life? Definitely my college years. I went through so much change and finally felt some of that frustration I’d been carrying around for 20 years lessen. Its such a cliche but I finally had a voice and could say the things I’d been thinking. I remember one time in high school after a fight with my family just thinking to myself- ”nobody understands what I’m trying say”. In college people started to understand and I treasure that time.
I feel like I got to experience in college, what most people get in high school- the friendships, parties, dances, fun. I LOVED BYU and am still its biggest fan. I loved college because I finally had the freedom I wanted for so many years (my Dad even wrote a declaration of independence for me when I turned 18.). I loved my family but no girl in all the world was more excited to be out on her own than me. Strangely when many feel college as a burden, I felt a release of my burdens and a freedom that was fabulous. Its a good thing I’m Mormon or I might have really expressed that free spirit! 🙂
4. What is your greatest accomplishment? Tough question because I don’t really feel like I’ve done anything that great. In some ways finishing Slam the Dam last October felt like my greatest accomplishment. It was something I never thought I could do and I did it. The world would say my MBA was my greatest accomplishment but I never had any doubt I could achieve that.
On second thought, my mission was my greatest accomplishment. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and my gift to God. He knew I’d worked as hard as I possibly could for Him. I’m grateful to be able to say that I’ve given Him my all at least once in my life. I hope at the end of my life I can give Him my life as a gift just as I did with my mission.
5. What is your greatest regret? My greatest regret is that I never learned how to read music. I’m envious of all kids that are forced to take music lessons. I take voice lessons now but I am always behind because I can’t read the notes. I have to memorize the sound instead.
I bitterly regret that it took me until 30 to figure out my insulin resistance/blood sugar problems. I was angry and frustrated a lot as a child and I think a lot of that could be tied back to the fact that I was tired and either on an upper or lower from the food I was eating. What I would give to go back in time and give the 10 year old me a glucometer and teach her how to eat for her unique body. Maybe I would have just tossed it aside as I did most advice but still I do regret those decades of unanswered questions and frustrations.
I also feel like I had a lot of bad luck. Just as we found a great school for me, my family moved. When I was going through all my major transitions, my family was in crisis mode. Everyone did the best they could but I wish a few things had turned out differently. Oh well. So is life. I’m stronger for having faced those challenges and emerging the slightly weary victor.
6. In what ways have you changed as a grown up and what ways are you the same as your childhood self? I think in most ways I’m happier now than I was as a kid. It might sound crazy but I feel more comfortable in my own skin at 30 than I did at 20, 15, 10 etc. I compare myself to others less frequently than I used to, it takes less to make me happy and I don’t need the control I used to require.
That said, I still am the same in many ways. I still am passionate and wish to do something great. I still feel defensive when I am judged by others. I am still a fiercely loyal friend and enjoy being with others and being by myself. I still love art, media and music and it still makes me happy when I can introduce others to things that I love. I’m a sharer. I love sharing my happiness with others.
I’m actually more of a reader now than I was as a little girl but I’ve kept that love of learning my parents taught. Adult life can get so routine and boring. Reading a new book or learning something new is about the only way I’ve got to be exciting and different any more.
I also gained a witness when I was 14 years old that God loves me and He thinks I’m beautiful. That has never changed. I’ve carried that witness in my pocket wherever I go, in whatever challenges I face.
7. What do you think the 12 year old self would think of the 31 year old you? I think she would be impressed. She’d probably be a little surprised I’m single but it was never a big dream of mine to be married. She’d think it was awesome that I have my own apartment and get to live independently. She’d also love the open water swimming and be very proud of my accomplishments. She would probably be the most disappointed in my job- that I’m not doing something exciting or that really helps people. She wanted to do something great like become a senator or the like. Still, I think she’d be very pleased with the 30 year old me.
Get ready for part 2! Please share your thoughts on me and what I’ve said. How would you answer some of these questions?
Oscar Wilde said “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Do you think that is true?
I used to think I was an exciting and adventurous person. As a child I could see myself traipsing off to Paris, Rome and the tropics (I evidently also saw an unending bank account!) and trying new and daring things like scuba diving, mountain climbing and cliff jumping (scuba diving is still a goal of mine). I also thought I would be living in New York, DC or possibly abroad….
While I think there is value in new experiences, I have learned as an adult that I am the near-opposite of the vision for myself I had as a child. I hate surprises, am completely unspontaneous and will always take the sure thing over an unknown. Perhaps this is a safe way to live life but if it is what gives you happiness can that be bad?
Rather than being safe I look at it as knowing what I like and being confident in those choices. For example, I have read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell at least 3 times a year for the last 4 years and I probably will continue reading it over again for the rest of my life. I love the experience of reading that book and have yet to find a replacement that is as satisfactory. (I was just talking to a girl who said she has never reread a book in her life. I wouldn’t read much if that was my philosophy!)
For me repetition does not diminish a good experience. The things I like I could do again and again. I honestly think I could eat a jamba juice every day of my life and never tire of it, or spaghetti, or subs. I love Hawaii and really feel no desire to vacation anywhere else. I think about going somewhere new and while that sounds exciting my heart keeps tugging me back to Hawaii. Its what I know I will love and just like Gaskell or jamba juice there is some comfort in a sure thing.
I have always loved to swim and whether it be boating, open water, ocean or pool, I love being in the water. I could swim every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it. Sometimes I wonder if I should take up other sports just to keep challenging myself but there isn’t anything else I feel a desire to do. All I want to do is swim! (In fact, every other athletic activity is somewhat repellent to me including things everyone loves like hiking or dancing).
With movies and television you can see this personality trait. I’ve seen Bringing up Baby, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and You’ve Got Mail untold numbers of times and I still love all 3 and could watch them again right now without any reduction in viewing enjoyment. The other day I watched the new season of the Simpsons and it is still making me laugh after 22 years. Same basic gags but if they work, they work.
Other examples are in music. I’ve had a playlist I made a year or so ago that is my go-to. It has all of my favorite songs and I put it on recycle and listen to it again and again. The other day I was driving with my sister and she said “Can we listen to something other than the playlist that you have on all the time”. Sometimes I forget that not everyone enjoys repetition the way I do!
In the first area of my mission there was a sandwich shop we would frequent and every time we went I got a reuben sandwich. Finally my companion in frustration said “try something different why don’t you!”. So I did and you know what- it wasn’t as good as the reuben and I left the store wishing I had gotten the sure thing.
What do you think of this trait? Some might say “I’m in a rut” but I see it as being self-aware and cognizant of what makes me happy. Besides, isn’t there a point in life where you stop trying to figure out what you love and just love the things you have? But on the other side I sometimes worry that I don’t push myself and end up as a boring person, which is not what I want.
A few years ago my friend Camille did a post of things we may not know about her and despite knowing her for years and living with her for 2 as a roommate, there were several things on the list that I didn’t know. I tried to come up with such a list and it was an epic failure. I couldn’t think of anything about myself that my friends didn’t know. Not one thing! I am the lamest person to play truth or dare with because I really have nothing interesting to tell! Being so predictable and open seems like a bad thing?
My friend Raelene has this bucket list of all these things she wants to do in life- the places she wants to go, experiences to have, possessions/homes she’d like to gain. I have never been this type of dreamer. I am content with what I’ve got and honestly feel no desire to have much more. If it happens that’s great but I could live in my apartment, by myself, with an occasional trip to Hawaii and be perfectly content for the rest of my life.
Most girls I know hate being single and daydream of a different life. I really don’t. I like my life. Its a sure thing and in some ways getting married would be super scary (although if the experience happens that would be great but adapting to a whole new life would be hard). If it happens that’s great but if it doesn’t I’m fine too.
Thoughts? Do you think consistency is good or bad thing? Should I feel compelled to ‘break out of my shell’ or am I fine just the way I am? What do you think about your life and being ‘in a rut’?
I can really be a strange, confusing creature! This is true in many ways (and I’m sure my friends and family could come up with a long list) but one way which I have been pondering recently is my seemingly incongruous desires for both sociability and solitude.
My entire life I have been an outwardly social person. I love entertaining, forming groups and making friends. I am also a very loyal friend that prizes relationships above almost anything else. Most of the dear moments of my life have come because of sacrifices and support of friends and family. For instance, any success I achieved on my mission was from a combination of my own efforts, God’s will and the hard work of the people I served with and for.
To get through graduate school I relied on the work of my fellow teammates and teachers. To thrive in college took the support of many roommates, friends, mentors and the love of my parents.
I can’t think of another human being that values social interaction and the people around her more than me. One of the benefits of swimming open water is it has opened my eyes to a whole new group of friends and fellow-swimmers. The comradery has motivated me so much. My trainers have also been absolutely crucial in my fitness success over the last 2 years. Without their prodding and encouragement I would not be where I am today.
So, why would such a person chose, yes chose, to live alone? How could such a social creature enjoy solitude? Not only do I live alone but I also spend most of my work hours alone. When I think back on my mission one of the hardest parts was feeling alone. Why was it so difficult then and yet not so now?
Maybe part of it is that my life experiences have taught me that I am never alone. My Lord is with me wherever I go, and I have an unending trove of people who care deeply about me.
That is all very key but another part is I am now at 30 comfortable with the ‘solitude of self’. I even crave it.
The term ‘solitude of self’ comes from a talk by Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was, along with Susan B. Anthony, a founder of the woman’s movement. In the talk, she defends a woman’s right to vote because all individuals whether man or woman have ‘a responsibility towards their own individual happiness and development’:
“To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch the winds and waves, and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman; nature, having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.”
What it comes down to, Stanton says, is that each human being is responsible for the choices he or she makes- and therefore, each person should have the right to make those choices. No person is a pawn.
“The talk of sheltering woman from the fierce storms of life is the sheerest mockery, for they beat on her from every point of the compass, just as they do on man, and with more fatal results, for he has been trained to protect himself, to resist, and to conquer. Such are the facts in human experience, the responsibilities of individual sovereignty. Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious, man and woman; it is ever the same, each soul must depend wholly on itself.”
While I might add ‘depend wholly on itself and God’ , I still love Stanton’s idea of ‘individual sovereignty’. One of the things that disgusted me with the recent Casey Anthony trial is how Casey refused to take any responsibility for her daughter being gone for 31 days before her parents called the police. Her attorneys then brought out every reason why she might have made poor choices. In the end, whether guilty or innocent she failed to uphold her ‘individual sovereignty’ and she will have to live with that.
To some the idea of the ‘solitude of self’ may sound depressing or sad but not to me. I have been cursed with the tendency to compare myself to others my entire life and it is only when I am truly at home with myself that I am happy.
In fact, I find if I am not given enough ‘me time’ I get depressed! And yet if I go too long without human affection and contact I am miserable also. I suppose it is like CS Lewis said “humans are in a sense amphibious beings—both physical and spiritual. We live our lives straddling two worlds..”
A good example of my dual nature is when I dive into water and feel cocooned in white noise. It is like everything is gone and I am free with just my thoughts. Even when people are cheering around me I hear nothing but the sound of water. I love that feeling. On the other hand, I can think of nothing I enjoy more than gathering with other swimmers and bonding over our shared experience.
Another example is I love when all I can hear in my apartment is the sound of the cars going by, and yet I also come alive when my table is spread with delicious food, friends are chatting and I am surrounded by those I love.
In one sense I am divided but maybe this new happiness is actually the most complete I can be? CS Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters (a book about 2 devils giving advice) that the ‘lost cause’ for all devils is when a human has faced his or her loneliness and yet still obeys:
“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
Maybe that’s what I am finally learning to do- to accept God’s will for my life at the moment I am living it, whether it be a lonely or social time? I am certainly not perfect in this acceptance, but I have come a long way since those lonely, yet social high school days or those humbling days on my knees in Indiana.
I hope this entry makes sense. It is something which has been on my mind; and I always find that pondering via writing is one of the best ways to sort out my thoughts.
Do you feel this contradiction in your life between the need for solitude and friendship?
One last quote by Stanton that I love
“as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone“
For my birthday my sister Megan got me A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I am about 50 pages into it and loving this book. It is a bit hard to describe but basically Miller is a writer who begins to feel that his life is boring that it is unworthy of a memoir (even though he had just published a memoir and was blocked on writing his newest one). While feeling frustrated and blocked he gets an offer to write a screenplay and in his meeting with the other writers they mention that his character will need to be changed to make a better story. This makes him wonder even more about what his life is all about and how much of a hand God has in the development of his story.
I am still reading but there was one part that I just had to share. Donald goes to an intense story-writing conference where he hears 36 hours of lecture and is still confused about what makes a great story. When packing up his bags he mentions his frustrations to his buddy who responds:
“A Story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”, he said with remarkable assurance.
I looked at the definition for a second wondering at how simple it really was. He was right. A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story.
“That’s it!,” I said to him. “That’s the essence of a story”
Realizing this truth he has a fascinating interaction with a friend of his. This friend has a daughter who is starting to experiment in drugs and is dating a guy “who smelled like smoke and only answered questions with single words ” (I love that description!). After repeated grounding attempts nothing seemed to be working. On a whim Donald tells his friend that his daughter is “living a terrible story”.
“What do you mean?” he asked
“I don’t know exactly, but she’s just not living a very good story. She’s caught up in a bad one”
After that the two friends talked for a long time about living the right stories. A couple of months later he ran into this friend and asked about the daughter. ‘”She’s better” he said to me smiling. And when I asked why, he told me his family was living a better story”. Basically the friend went online and looked for something different, better to be involved in- something that might catch his daughters eye. In the search he found an organization that builds orphanages around the world. He then called the organization and signed up for the service.
“So I went home and called a family meeting…I told them about this village and about the orphanage and all these terrible things that could happen if these kids don’t get an orphanage. Then I told them I agreed to build it”
My wife sat there looking at me like I’d lost my mind. And my daughter, her eyes were as big as melons and she wasn’t happy.
He then goes on to explain that after getting over the initial shock the entire family became excited including his daughter. She even wanted to use her website and blog to promote and fund raise for the orphanage.
“That’s incredible” I said “You know what else, man?” “She broke up with her boyfriend last week. She had his picture on her dresser and took it down and told me he said she was too fat. Can you believe that? What a jerk.”
“But that is done now,” he said, shaking his head. ” No girl who plays the role of hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while”
I have a quote on my wall that says “If at some point in your life you are not where you want to be it has no bearing on the future. You can always reinvent yourself”. I don’t know who said that first but I think this is a very interesting idea. Just like the girl in the story or the prodigal son from scripture, we can come to ourselves and think upon our ways; thereby, creating a new story, a better story, or certainly a more dynamic story. Even if it is not a redemptive change, knowing that change is possible is so wonderful. For example, if I am able to lose weight that would change my story- it may or may not make it substantially better but the chances are it will make it a longer story. Another example that comes to my mind is the new story which was created when I quit my job at JWA. I felt 100% authentic to what God wanted to me to do and what was consequently right for me. As Donald says “And once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a choice. Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die and its not natural to want to die.” This is the best summary of how I feel now compared to how I felt in my old job. I just wasn’t living the story I was meant to live- it wasn’t a bad story, just not the one for me. I am so glad I had the guts to leap into the unknown and try something new.
On my mission I saw many people who started to tell a different story. They experienced conversion and fairly quickly his or her life became a life with a “Mormon” story thrown into the mix. I’d be curious to hear of moments in your life where a change in your story had a dramatic affect or a smaller but memorable one.