One of my daughters is consistently a terrible ambassador for herself. We know her to be hilarious, brilliant, insightful and caring, but many people who encounter her—even family—might not gather that from their time with her. Her behavior betrays her. I hear myself saying this, in frustration, and dig my toes in the sand, immediately aware that I do it too.
Our new pastor had rattled the familiar verse off the weekend before, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15 NIV).
So, for our daughter, maybe it’s a tantrum when she’s feeling overwhelmed, flying off the handle because a bee flew by or speaking unkindly to someone she loves. I see this behavior met with frustration, anger, or even disgust from people we know and from strangers alike. Sometimes I meet it the same way. It’s frustrating to see someone I love misrepresent herself so.
And yet, I betray my heart on a regular basis. Inside, most of the time, I am loving, open and kind. I see the best in others and want to believe good things for them; I have ideas about telling and showing them this. I have plans to spend my time with intention, doing things I love for myself and people I love. But then, instead, I spend my time forgetting myself, complaining or judging, scrolling through Facebook while the precious minutes fly by at night and hitting snooze in the morning. Why do I do this?
So, here’s where I land. I can pray to be an ever-better representation of myself. I can work to understand what I want to do and why I choose what I do instead. I can take it all moment by moment and make deliberate choices about my words and time. I can apologize to others and forgive myself when I mess up (because none of this will keep me from getting it wrong forever). But maybe most importantly, I can look at my daughter and others in my life with understanding and grace, knowing we all get it wrong more often than we get it right. I can reject the notion that our character is distilled to only our actions; I can choose not to judge others as if I’m the only one who betrays myself; I can give them the benefit of believing that their behavior betrays their best selves too.
I ran a slow couple of miles on Monday, went to yoga and finished reading a book yesterday, and my aching muscles are waiting for enough ambient light this morning to run safely. I write to you predawn now, without feeling particularly inspired or insightful, but I showed up anyway. Here's hoping you find it within yourself to show up anyway for yourself and your people today.