Friday, June 17, 2011

Inside or Out?

Are you the same person on the inside as you are on the outside?  This is a really tough question to answer honestly.  If you are not…why?  Me?...well funny you should ask.  In reality this is a trick question…who asked it anyway?  Okay, back to me the “asker” and the “answerer” of this question; are you the same person on the inside as you are on the outside?  

I’ll give a very Anglican/Episcopal answer:  Yes…and…No.  I guess I live in that grey area in the middle and maybe you do too.  As father’s day approaches I realize that on the inside I want to be the best father I can be, though at times I don’t do so well… (I’m really cranky in the mornings, but mostly it is when Lucy is cranky; we sometimes exchange a few words that neither one of us can understand… she invents her own language and I invent my own curse words that won’t get me fired when she tells on me at work.)  As a father I want to always be there, but sometimes I am not and I want to be the best example but I often fail there too.

On the inside I am extremely compassionate and forgiving, but please don’t honk at me if you are doing it to punish me for something I did while driving. Car horns are NOT for punishment, they are for a form of communication that is to either prevent an accident or to tell someone that their ride has arrived.  I don’t like unexpected loud noises and I don’t really like to be honked at when I’m already aware that I screwed up.

On the inside I am a person who wants to please everyone else and to be available and approachable…but on the outside I really just want to be me even if you don't like my style.  Many don’t know that both of my ears are pierced.  I was even ordained in my earrings (10 years ago this week).  The first 6 months of my ordained ministry I wore my earrings everyday to work, (even on Sundays) but I took them out when I vested for worship and put them back in when the services were over.  I took them out, not because I didn’t want people to know, but because vesting for worship has a purpose; it is to cover me up…it is to visually take me out of the picture.  It is to cover up my $1,000 suit (if I owned one) or my $15.00 worn out jeans (yep that’s more my style.)  When I vest for worship it is about Christ and not about me.  My earrings ARE about me…I like them, Tricia likes them, but I no longer wear them except when I am on vacation. 

I stopped wearing them because I realized that there are parishioners that would not allow me to be their priest if I wore them.  This may sound superficial and it is, but in their world, earrings don’t belong on men and if men do wear them they represent something negative.  Many (not all) people project onto clergy what their definition of clergy is supposed to look like...(a very unhealthy thing to do.)

On the inside I wear earrings everyday, but not on the outside because they limit the effectiveness of my priesthood within parish ministry. (My tattoos are another story… I only get them where people can’t see them…they are for me…they are an outlet for me to be me without having to “take them out” when I vest for worship.  They are a way for me to be me without weakening the effectiveness of my ministry.  My tattoos are not a secret; people just can't see them and I don’t talk about them much.)

So, are you the same person on the outside as you are on the inside and if not, why?  When Jesus came he leveled the playing field.  He brought equality to all people no matter if they were Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; earrings or not, tattoos or not, divorced or not, tall/short, gay/straight, democrat/republican, Christian/Muslim, from the north or south, etc…for we are all one Body in Christ.  When we share in Holy Communion we are one in Christ, we are equal in Christ…it is not our Table, it belongs to Christ.  Who are we to say who can and who can’t receive those precious and life giving nutrients?  (Maybe I’ll blog about this soap box at some point, but not today)

May we all grow in Christ in such a way that we can live our lives equally; both inside and out.


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