Does your outward life match what is within? Or is the mask firmly in place, only to be taken off in extremely safe and lonely places? Outward declarations of intent to be something are really not worth much, if they are not matched by an inner reality that corresponds at least to the desire if not the substance. To be whole does not mean to be perfect and unbroken, but to be authentic about what lurks within and lets the outward and inner lives have resonance.
Last week I posted about my visit to the Bucharest palatial residence of 1964-1989 Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. (see Megalomania starts with an ounce of pride.) The photo I’m including with this post is of the Ceausescu royal bathroom, used of course exclusively by Nicolae and his wife Elena. It was not even allowed to be used by their three teenage children.
Perhaps the reader has a bathroom like this, but I do not. But the problem is not having a royal bathroom, with gold faucets galore, but the fact that Ceausescu was a self-declared “simple man of the people”. (not sure if Elena ever claimed to be that, of the woman variety?) And as I wrote in the last post, the Romanian public had no knowledge of the unbelievably excessive lifestyle of the dictator couple. This house was not even open to the public until two years ago, 28 years after their fall and execution.
Unfortunately having outward lives and declarations that do not match what is reality are not confined to megalomania-fueled dictators. (I have a President in my own country right now that though not a dictator, frequently makes statements or tweets things that do not correspond to reality, either his own or a more generally accepted one.)
You do not need to be the leader of a nation to have this problem. To some degree, all of us can hedge on what we say and present to the world, and what we are in reality. If we are married, usually but not always our spouse will know what is bull#$%@ and what is real. And sadly children also know, but have to learn in silence, that what is modeled by their parents should not really be the way they should live.
How do we change? With a radical commitment to let the inner life be not lived in secrecy, but to be revealing in authenticity to others. My faith in Christ and my commitment to relationship with people lovingly requires me to daily move away from a false outward life that does not match an inner self. In many ways this is more painful than trying to show an outward mask that has no generous grace supplied. Masks only perpetuate more masks. And sooner or later, usually unfortunately later, there is a price to pay. The Ceausescus paid with their lives, in a humiliating spectacle that their country still struggles to fully transcend.
If you have a bathroom like this couple, there is no guilt or condemnation. But please limit yourself to any “simple man of the people” declarations.