Not like me - just like Him.

One of our youth pastor's most often used quotes for our students is this:

"Who you are at home is who you are."

He follows it by saying, "I don't care what you show me for 90 minutes at youth group.  Anyone can be kind and gracious and submissive to authority for 90 minutes. 
It's how you act, what you say, and how you submit when you are home - 24 hours a day - with people who irritate you, frustrate you, invade your space, and require you to sacrifice your own wants.
How you respond to them - day in and day out - is WHO YOU REALLY ARE."

And you know what?  I believe he is 100% spot on right!

Not just for teenagers - but for everyone.  Old, middle-aged, teen, or toddler.
Who we are at home is who we are.

I have watched 30 teenagers say please and thank you, offer to help clean up huge messes, and willingly work until they sweat.  All while smiling and laughing and having a great time as they engaged in the task at hand.
And either 24 hours before, or after, I have listened to their own parents cry out with frustration that these same children refuse to do chores at home, are purposefully mean to their siblings, and whine and complain about the most menial of jobs.

I have watched couples hold hands and smooch in public while smiling and gazing lovingly at one another.
And either a week before, or after, that same couple sits on our couch, the woman weeping, the man clenching his jaw, as they share the truth that they can hardly stand each other.

I have stood up in front of groups of women encouraging them in their role as mothers, challenging them to embrace the truth that motherhood is a high calling that is to be taken seriously - and enjoyed.  It requires constant sacrifice and selflessness - which can be hard - but is not an option.
And either an hour before, or after, I can be heard screaming at one of my children (or all of them) because they are not performing the way I want them to.  I am not getting my way.  And I am mad.

What causes this seeming dichotomy of character?  This hypocrisy?

I think the answer is ridiculously simple:  P R I D E.

We have an amazingly acute ability to reign ourselves in when we know others are watching.  We may slip and allow others to catch a glimpse of our "dark side" from time to time, but overall we are quite skilled at presenting our 'best' to the public.
Especially the public that sits in nice clothes, in pretty pews, in a large building - called church.
Heaven forbid we let our brothers and sisters in Christ see the REAL us.

Imagine every church member rolling these questions through their minds:
What would they say if they knew about my temper?
What if the Pastor knew about our debt?
What if the elders knew my child is rebellious and out of control?
That we have not spoken to certain family members for years because we absolutely refuse to forgive them?
Our teenager has an addiction?
Pornography has been viewed from our home?
My spouse had an affair?
I am driven by envy and jealousy?
Our marriage is a farce and we live only as roommates?  And we don't care?
Someone in our family has had an abortion?
I am bitter and angry about my infertility?
I live in fear, worry about everything, and trust no one?  Including the Lord.

What would happen then?
Everyone would see what our families sees - every day.
Nothing would be hidden.
Everything would be laid bare.
The mask we keep so well groomed, always polished and ready to wear, would crumble to pieces because everyone would know it is a lie - something we use to hide the truth ... just so we will be accepted.

But are we accepted?
If people like us, even love us, based on what we choose to show them when we are controlled and on our best behavior (Bible study, mission trip, book club, moms group) - is that acceptance?!?

They are not seeing who we REALLY are.  They are only seeing the person we want them to see. The BEST parts of us.  The beautiful parts.  The desirable parts.
And then we go home to the spouse who has committed to love us until death - no matter how bad things may get.
We go home to the children who were gifted to us by a gracious God.
And we unleash.

We whine, complain, scream, lash out, overeat, overindulge, neglect them, spend money we do not have, make excuses for sin, gossip, slander, refuse to forgive, refuse to submit, show disrespect, ignore, criticize, blame, worry, fret, live in fear, neglect the Word ...
and our spouse and our children see us ...
as we really are.

"Who you are at home is who you are."

Our youth pastor is right.

The question is:  Why do the people who CHOOSE to love us - our spouses - and the children who WANT to love us because we are their parents, and desperately desire our love in return ... why do they get the worst of us?
Why do they have to bear the brunt of our sin?
Why should they have to endure the ugliest parts of us when we so diligently clean up and present the best (and sometimes false) version of ourselves for casual friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers?!?

Though there is unspeakable beauty, comfort, and security in being wholly accepted and unconditionally loved by another ... it ought not be abused.  And it can certainly never - EVER - be an excuse to sin.

When I read Scripture ... the living and active Word of God ... I see clear, concise, purposeful commands, given by a holy God, about how we are to dwell with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are no loopholes.  No conditions.
Just commands.

Be at peace with one another – Mark 9:50
Love one another – John 13:34Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12
Build up one another – Romans 14:19Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Be of the same mind toward one another – Romans 12:16
Give preference to one another – Romans 12:10
Greet one another – Romans 16:16
Esteem others as better than yourself – Philippians 2:3
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Receive one another – Romans 15:7
Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
Rejoice or weep with one another – Romans 12:15
Admonish one another – Romans 15:14Colossians 3:16
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Show tolerance toward one another – Romans 15:1-5Ephesians 4:2Colossians 3:13
Be kind and forgiving to one another – Ephesians 4:32Colossians 3:13
Submit to one another – Romans 12:10Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11Hebrews 3:13
Be compassionate with one another – 1 Peter 3:8
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Confess your faults to one another – James 5:16
Accept one another – Romans 14:1; 15:7
Be truthful with one another Colossians 3:9

And the last time I checked?
Dennis, Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah, Isaiah and Ellie are my personal "one anothers."

Which means that I am absolutely without excuse.

I can be kind, thoughtful, gracious, forgiving, joyful, patient, loving, gentle, and long-suffering with a thousand people outside of my home.
But if I am not exercising those same fruits of the Spirit IN my home?  With the husband and children the Lord chose for me?  The people He purposefully positioned for me to walk through life with day after day after day?
Then, my friends, I am a hypocrite.
And I am a liar.

I can spend a lifetime presenting a perfectly polished Michelle to the world ... but if my husband and children cannot look that same world in the eye and confidently proclaim, "The Michelle you see is the same woman we see every day - in every situation.  She is the genuine article, authentic through and through." ...
then I have a whole lot of work to do.
And it starts with falling to my knees, begging the Lord to forgive my duplicity, and letting Him destroy my flesh so that I can walk in freedom - without fear - never to seek the approval or applause of man again.

And you know what is so beautiful about this?
He will DO IT!
More than once!
For a lifetime if need be.

Because He loves me that much.
He loves YOU that much.
He loves us with such passion and intensity that He sent His only Son to DIE for us.
Then, to make it even sweeter, He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us - AND - that His mercies are new every morning.  EVERY morning!  Mercy, grace, forgiveness - and healing.

That is who our God is.

Who I am at home is who I am.
And if I am really honest ... super duper, completely and vulnerably honest ...
I like the public Michelle much, much better than I like the private Michelle.
I can control public Michelle and make her look good - pretty much all the time.
But the private Michelle battles with the flesh so often, and sometimes for so long that I can barely catch my breath before I am sucked under again, fighting and beating against the waves of sin and selfishness until I can hardly stand myself.

And it is in that moment - that horrifying moment when I see my sin as it really is - putrid and horrifying and filthy ...
the blood of Jesus sweeps through and washes it away, wrapping me in a shiny, bright, gleaming cloak that reflects HIS beauty - HIS mercy - HIS forgiveness and HIS glory.

And then, no matter where I am ... at home or in a crowd of strangers ... I no longer look like Michelle.

I only look
like my Savior.