Once upon a time, I lived in a state where my vote didn’t mean a whole lot. Since I moved from my home state of Connecticut, I have found myself, most recently, in a state that is a battleground state. This fact has enabled me to be bombarded by advertisements during this highly political season. Ads are everywhere, mailers are coming frequently, and it’s not uncommon for our house to get a number of phone calls throughout the week polling us on our views.
I’ve never been a highly political person. Whether it’s our government, a business, or another organization, I have never fully appreciated the political systems that seem somewhat distorted throughout our culture. I am grateful for my freedom and the opportunity that we have had in our country to exercise all of the freedoms with which we have been blessed. As I have looked at the various political systems, not just government, it’s hard for me to be hopeful about significant change. Not wanting to be completely cynical, I have to remind myself frequently that the greatest way for me to affect change is by changing myself. The lyrics of “Man in the Mirror” come to mind as I think about the words, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”
All that being said, one thing that has been made abundantly clear to me over the years is the false notion of compartmentalization. Our society has enforced the idea that we should compartmentalize our lives, not only should, but have to, almost mandating it. While this is necessary and possible in some areas and circumstances, I just don’t see it being completely possible nor do I see it being completely healthy.
More and more I have seen that we are holistic people, things bleed over and overlap. How we feel physically can impact how we feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually. At the same time, what we are experiencing in our home life will impact what we bring into our work life and social life. In modern psychology and counseling, entire courses and works are devoted to family systems and much is being discovered and studied about how our families of origin majorly impact what we do and where we go in our lives, both positively and negatively.
I was reminded of all of this in a conversation I was having with a friend about this current political season in which we find ourselves. In the past, we have had presidents whose personal life was not as squeaky clean as some might have thought that they should have been. There were many arguments on both sides of the coin, some claiming that what happens personally shouldn’t impact a person’s ability to perform professionally. Others claimed that indiscretions committed by a person in one area of their life could be indications of indiscretions in other areas of their life.
Let’s face it, if I am a liar or a cheater, it goes without saying that it won’t be compartmentalized. Is it really possible to lie only in certain areas of my life, thinking that it can be contained? Eventually, we will find that like a boiled pot that is covered, it will eventually spill over, making a larger impact than we might have thought or planned. Who I am when people are not watching me plays as significant, if not more, of a role as who I reveal myself to be to people.
When I really stop and think about it, this can be convicting as well as holding me accountable. I want consistency, I don’t want there to be a difference between who I am when nobody is watching and who I consciously reveal myself to be to people. If I am trying to cover things up, that takes energy and effort. Eventually, I will grow tired of the lie and if my secrets are revealed, it could be painful and damaging.
I’m not perfect, but I do my best to let people see who I am. There have been times in the past that I legitimately thought that I could successfully compartmentalize areas of my life. It wore me out. It could not be sustained, and I am glad for that. Who we are when no one is watching has been defined as character. If this is true, character is a constant, not a compartmentalized commodity. I am who I am and it will be revealed…eventually. My hope and prayer is that my character is consistent and not compartmentalized. If I am not happy with who I am being when no one is watching, with God’s help, I can change, but attempting to hide it will prove fatal. If I want to make a difference, I have to start with me, that’s the greatest way for me to affect change.