“What does Christmas look like in your home?”
I don’t think my friend saw me shift – squirm, actually – in the seat beside her. Her eyes were on the road as she drove us through town.
“It’s different every year,” I replied, “especially since we moved to Cambodia.” I don’t think we really have any traditions. We pretty much always read the account of Jesus’ birth… we usually do something with our church, but we’re with different people each time, and the events are always different.”
Even as I answered, I felt guilty. Nothing I said was false. The part about Christmas looking different every year was absolutely true. Still, there were other things besides reading the Bible-reading that stayed consistent; I had intentionally left out. I cherry-picked what I chose to share with an agenda to be liked, not to be known.
See, I knew my friend had particular convictions surrounding Christmas and I knew my life wouldn’t align neatly. Thus, I was vague and evasive and I told her what I thought would most likely agree with her.
I didn’t understand the psychology behind what I was doing until I looked back on the conversation in hindsight. I was going on the defense. I was putting up a front to protect myself (and forgetting that my friend loves me and wasn’t out to attack me).
I share with you this one particular story, but it’s not an isolated case. It’s become quite the nasty habit for me, even after 11 months of camping out on the topic of biblical vulnerability.
Sometimes my defensive front is more subtle. There’s no guilt; I simply get a blank (a real blank) when I sense that a conversation might touch on motives or anything deep. I tell the other person that I’m having a hard time remembering or answering their question. I think, however, that if I were to ask them to give me a moment to think, maybe I would remember. I might even get the ball rolling by being honest about why I’m struggling to answer their question.
As I consider this tendency to avoid being vulnerable, I feel convicted that it’s a form of deception. My prayer has become this:
Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
The Lord can keep us from deceitful ways. The Lord can teach us His law. The word ‘gracious’ struck me as I meditated on this verse. It tells me about the nature of His law; that it’s good and delightful and life-giving.
I want the Lord to keep me from deceitful ways – including from cherry-picking my facts with an agenda. I want Him to write His law on my heart and lead me to live by it, and I know that if it’s His patient work – not my empty striving – I will find that it is good.
- Do you prefer to be liked or to be known?
- Do you ever guard yourself against even people who love you and aren’t seeking to hurt you?
- What does Christmas look like in your home?