"We all have our devices, yours make you look terrible, mine make me look good."
My words as we discussed the Beatitudes at South Street's Sunday fellowship. We were discussing the backwards nature of the Kingdom of God. As we entered into conversation, I knew the place of my own heart: distant and stale. A spiritually lazy week had yielded a short-tempered, selfish version of myself that I knew how to properly disguise.
My disguise of productivity. Before South Street gathered I was working. I cleared the snow off the van and picked up friends and neighbors to come to worship with us. When I arrived at the Front Porch, I set up the sound system, changed the trash bags, set out pastries, made a fresh pot of coffee, and bought Styrofoam cups (so that I wouldn't have to do dishes as well I suppose).
No one was the wiser. My productivity disguise doesn't just blend into most Christian cultures, it thrives there. I answered questions and addressed concerns. I ran the sound for the service. However as Duane began to paraphrase the Beatitudes, discussing the 'goodness' of mourning, or being cursed, or being poor, my productivity facade began to chaff the spirit within.
I sat with friends, some my age, one significantly older who is quite straightforward and has a silver tongue (that is no stranger to the baser words of our discourse). He quickly connected with the Beatitudes. He knew mourning, poverty, and hardship far better than I. He knew times of walking with God and times when his devices mad him far worse off.
"We all have our devices, yours make you look terrible, mine make me look good." I responded. The discussion continued, but the disguise continued. I set up a video to play, drove some folks home, and proceeded home to get some work done.
And I did. And the rush was validating. I finished a flier for South Street's 15 Year anniversary (March 9th!!) and revised the website. For some reason, I decided to visit the Chapel's new service, the Gathering. I had perfected my disguise at the Chapel. I had authentic days and false days, but few were aware. Throughout the hard days I was not blessed, I was disguised.
The service was well attended and youthful. My reputation proceeded me and I was greeted by old and new friends. We worshiped and I sang loudly. I love the sound of my voice.
I stopped singing. My falsehood was intolerable, and the inner spirit once again chaffed against the disguise. The sermon spoke well to my condition and after a good deal of socializing I went out with an old friend and his wife. I had walked with this couple through a great many hardships and their Beatitude blessing was apparent to me.
"We all have our devices, yours make you look terrible, mine make me look good." I thought again.
I headed home, tired from a long day of doing, with little essence of being. My disguise sat on the floor of my truck, stripped off through conversation, conviction, and exhaustion. The hardship with a productivity disguise is that eventually the burden of performance is too much to bare.
I was blessed that day. I was blessed to talk at South Street, to accept a word from friends and neighbors who had no pretense of productivity. I was blessed to worship at the Chapel and recognize the vanity of my own soul. I was blessed to sit at Luigi's and listen to the genuine hardships and pain of friends.
And I am blessed to be rid of that wretched disguise. I am blessed to ask for help instead of always give it. I am blessed to be still and rest.