Posted by: cmittermeier | September 29, 2011

Multiple Personalities – My Christian Side & My Secular Side

This is a theme that is coming into play in many areas of my life – personally, in my family and in my work at the church.  This essay is about the boundaries we put around our spirituality as Christians and the schisms we create in ourselves.  An easy example is the businessman who faithfully attends church and bible study, yet doesn’t record a percentage of cash sales so he can avoid paying legitimate government taxes.

We are all contradiction-in-terms, myself included.  I recently sat down with my good confessor and found myself on the opposite end of an expected discussion around the sin of gluttony.  Though I have known and actively pursued Christ in my weight loss efforts, I would rarely include gluttony in my confession list.  I looked at the sin of gluttony from a secular point of view and always thought it a very silly, trivial, “not really a sin” kind of sin.  Overeating is so acceptable in our world to say to someone scarfing down their biggie size fries and litre of pop and say they are sinning… please!  Last weekend, the Lord showed me that it was not this trivial thing.  In lust we use another persons body for our own pleasure, in gluttony we use our own.  Ouch.  As I sat down with my good confessor I was going to prep him for this revelation on the seriousness of what I was doing and as I had just pulled out of the thinking “gluttony isn’t a real sin” I thought I would have to convince him that it was serious… Yes, you read correctly.  I had actually thought I had to explain the seriousness of sin to a Priest!  I found myself on the other side trying to explain why I had ever thought it wasn’t serious!

Turns out I was not the only one lately to cross his door with such contradictions.  He did not understand how we could all appear to know Christ and miss the basics – all I could answer was that he was on the other side and we were still climbing out of the secular ideas we had swallowed hook line and sinker.

As I went home my thoughts turned to parenting – how can I help my children not miss these basics – there seem to be so many of them!  And what about all the ones I don’t even realize I don’t even know?!?  I’m sure gluttony isn’t the last real sin I’ve mentally demoted to “not really a sin”.

The idea of a leaf came to mind.  A leaf is thin, it is exposed to the outside world in almost every way, very few cells are totally internal to the leaf.  Just like us, very little of their spirituality is totally removed from the secular world.  The second thing about the leaf is that while it needs that interaction with the external, it is the internal food channels that actually keep the leaf alive: pull it off a tree and it won’t last long.  Just like us, remove us from Christ and it’s not long before problems start to show.  Next, take a look at the veins in a leaf:

Just like us, Christ is to reach to every part of us.  But if you look closely, some parts are nourished only by very small amounts, very tiny capillaries.  This is where you can get the problems.  Infections in leaves don’t normally start in the stem, the fluid that nourishes also protects so the more fluid the greater the protection.  The further you get away from the big sections, the more susceptible the leaf is to infestation and disease.  When we don’t let “enough” of Jesus into our lives, we leave ourselves open to half truths, compromises, sin.  I have many areas in my life that have little flow, I’m sure you do to.  My job as a parent is to help my children learn to bring Jesus into every place of their life – not just Sunday but Monday, Tuesday… if I don’t cut off areas of their life from Christ, his nourishment will flowand keep them healthy.

Now comes the hard part, looking at where I cut the flow not just in them, but in myself.  What other areas am I still following the secular “its not really a sin” mentality?  I have to stop leading double lives, accepting double standards, but it won’t happen over night.  Rarely can you fix your entire house at once, more often we work on one area at a time.  It takes time for Christ to permeate our entire being, and the secular world isn’t going to stop pushing its ideas on us just because we’re trying to get closer to Christ.  My good confessor  will have to put up with many more moments like yesterday as I find other areas.

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Responses

  1. You must be my spiritual sister because I was thinking this very thing, i.e., gluttony. I’m guilty and I’ve noticed my daughter is getting a little heavy and I need to be a role model for her and lose the weight. It’s hard to change a lifetime of bad behavior towards food but I must try and pray about it. Through God all things are possible. Bridgette

    • I think it all stems from the whole “Separation of Church and _____” mentality – we all look out our bodily vices and think of them as removed from our spiritual life. Since this post I’ve realized I still have HUGE areas of my life that I still hold separate from my Spirituality and it makes no sense – how can God be everything for me and yet be absent from certain areas? Yet, I’m buying into it hook line and sinker!

      I realize the whole “keep church separate’ view was part of tolerance but I wonder if we would not have been better served looking deeper at the supposed differences because in the end I think we would have found more common ground. Then it wouldn’t have been based on “your faith” or “my faith”… I think its time I borrowed some of my friend’s books on Mother Theresa.

      …and here’s one from our family… when the role-model was the other way around. Last week my hubby reaches into the fridge and pulls out a bottle of pop while the kids are finishing dinner. As he goes to take a swig the kids pipe up – and it wasn’t the expected “how come you get some and we don’t” — it was “Dad, you shouldn’t be doing that – you’re already too big and you drink pop at night – that’s too much”. Out of the mouth’s of babes!


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