It's not a secret that humans can be hypocrites. Call it human nature, or sin from the great Fall, whatever you want. We can be hypocrites. We say one thing and do another, whether we intend to or not.
So I was quite intrigued when my friend Jon (from the Anima Series) published a blog post titled "A Confession of Hypocrisy: My True Story" on Friday. He is hands down one of the wisest people I have ever met, so I was curious to see what he had to say and what he had been a hypocrite about.
Except then I read the post, and I didn't see hypocrisy in it at all.
I've linked to the post, so you can read it for yourself, but here's the gist of it: Jon's blog focuses on encouraging people to create their own art and take risks, but he struggles with a lot of fear in creating his art. He called himself a hypocrite because he was encouraging people to be brave but wasn't being brave himself.
I understood what he was feeling before I even finished his post, so I sent him an email saying such. Later, I realized that I think the best thanks I can give him for being so vulnerable and open and actively fighting his own fear is to be honest about my own internal conflicts.
I feel like a hypocrite sometimes, too.
There have been many days where I have freely told people that I am grateful for my life and the story God has given me, and that I know who God is because of this story and not despite it. But in my head, there are also many days, especially the past couple of months, where I have begged for a break. I've exclaimed that "I just don't want to do this anymore!" and "Pick somebody else!" I have been struggling with my faith, grappling with what I know to be true about God and what it means when my life looks the way it does. I feel that I couldn't say the first statements about being grateful and knowing who God is and actually believe it. Hypocrisy hits the hardest when I have friends tell me that they don't know anyone with stronger faith than me, or that my faith in adversity is something everyone should learn from, because to me, it feels like my faith is in shambles.
Several months ago, however, my dear, sweet best friend Clayton opened my eyes to a perspective that I am still fighting to remember. Saying one thing and feeling another doesn't necessarily make you a hypocrite; it makes you human. If you feel a certain way about God or fear or whatever it is you're struggling with, but you know that the opposite is what is true, then stop being so hard on yourself because we're not going to get it right all the time. When I tell people the good comments on how I feel about my life and my story, those feelings are just as real to me when I say them as what I am feeling right now. Jon knows that he is right in saying we should all be brave and take chances, and that is just as real of a belief to him as the fear that he struggles with.
I honestly think Jon said it best, in his response to my email. (What can I say? The man has written and self-published two books!) "Encouraging others about the goodness of God even when we struggle to feel it is not hypocrisy, it's FAITH." There have been many times when I've given encouragement to those around me and it turned out to be the exact lesson I needed to hear myself.
We have to believe in what we know to be true, even if our brains can't totally rationalize it and our hearts don't feel it. Because that's what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." If we had all the answers, if we handled the struggles of this life perfectly, we wouldn't need faith. We wouldn't need a God if we could get everything right on our own. But because we are broken, fallible people, we need a Savior who promises to make us whole and clean and enough.
God was the one who created humans, all of our messy emotions included, so He knows our hearts. I don't believe that a Father as purely good as God would get mad at us for being scared or angry or frustrated. He just wants to help us through it, just as an earthly father wouldn't get mad at his kid for feeling any of those things. The God I know doesn't ask us to be perfect, or not to struggle with our feelings and faith, or to get it right all the time. He just asks for our hearts. And if we can do that, if we can get that much right, He'll take care of the rest and carry us through whatever darkness we face, whether it be internal or external.
So Jon, when you read this, I just want you to know that your fear and your struggles do not make you a bad leader, or a bad example, or a bad friend. They make you human. Congratulations. :)