Recently it hit the news that emails of government and health officials have been made public. This is not the first time. We know that such email messages convey comprehensive information about the writer, including what that person believed, how they interacted with others, their level of respect for those who disagreed, and more. It made me think: If all of my personal emails were made public, what picture would they paint of me? Which of my attitudes or conversations would be an embarrassment if they were made known? Are my interactions and messages consistent with who I believe myself to be and what people to know about me, or do I have one persona for my “public face” and a different one in private?
These are important questions for Christian disciples to ask themselves. Jesus tells us that nothing done in secret will remain hidden, but rather will be brought to light. I don’t believe he means literally that everything we do, say, and write in private will be in the news. Instead, I believe he wants to emphasize how important it is to live our lives and conduct our relationships as if they could be. We need to always act in ways that are consistent with our calling, even when others are not watching or when we get no reward. It is simply unacceptable to be kind in one setting and stab someone in the back in another (in general, of course, but especially if it’s the same person). It is against the Gospel to project a saintly image while harboring prejudice, greed, envy, resentment, pettiness, jealousy, vengeance, or any other sinful attitudes behind the scenes. In simplest language, we must always do the right thing because it is the right thing, whether in private or in full view.
With that in mind, I commit to more carefully monitoring myself. I will start by looking back at some of my emails, texts, and phone messages, as well as my everyday conversations, especially those that are critical of someone else. Am I acting in charity, kindness, and patience? Am I calling out injustice and wrong without condemning the person? In what ways do I act or speak differently when in a more public or visible setting vs. in the privacy of my own heart? And what can I do to allow God to transform my heart so that it is shaped in God’s image and flows into all that I say and do?
I pray that as I ponder these questions, it will help me become an ever more transparent instrument of God’s loving and healing power. May we all be!
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.