Who I am, and how I behave all depends on the group of people that I am around. If I am around my trucking buddies, then I am more course and blue collar. However, if I am around my friends from the Ancient Faith community or those from church, I behave much more somber and definitely less crude. I’ll use quite a few more cuss words around my coworkers than I would with anyone at church, but at the same time bringing up the Orthodox faith with the guys I work with brings only “yeah okay” and “yep, uh huh”. Soon the work conversation will devolve back into what ever happened at the receiver that day or if someone had done something stupid, then that’s all we’d discuss.
“Can you believe what K- did today? What a bleeping moron!” Oh my god this placing is so bleeping slow, what the bleep is taking so long?” “L- did what?? His bleep needs to be bleeping fired!” “Check out the bleep on her!” A brief example of group work chat.
This split in personality however leaves me with several questions. Questions such as why do I do this? And am I being true to myself? If I am a Christian, a real true follower of Christ, then I need to act it 24/7. Saint Paul tells us to pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), not when we feel like it or when we’re around the right group of people. So by that logic, we should be followers of Christ all of the time, no matter what. I’ll go one step further! The lives of those around us can be saved by example of our own Christian life. One of my absolute favorite saints, Saint Seraphim of Sarov famously once said “Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” If a thousand souls can be saved simply by one acquiring the spirit of peace, imagine what could happen if we were to simply live the christian life all of the time. Converting others to the faith just by your own actions has been done countless times in the Orthodox tradition. Look at the examples of the countless martyrs of the first, second and third century. A christian would be put to death, only for the people who watched to be converted themselves! Every action that we do, every word we say, and every thought we have should not just be an emulation of Christ, but they should also act as an illuminating light for all the ones around us who cannot see the correct path to God.
So why then am I not the same person all the time? Why do I write and talk with such conviction of heart and purpose of soul, but abandon that persona around my non orthodox coworkers? For when I am around those who share not my faith, I abandon that persona and put up a facade of crass and lewdness just to fit in. A man (or woman) cannot be a follower of Christ only part time. Sure I try to be better than the other guys by not participating in many of the more inappropriate conversations, but am I truly being better by shutting my eyes and turning away? Did Christ turn his face away from the gamblers and sinners in order to maintain the sanctity of his soul? No, he dined with them and saved their souls. This failure on my part is a lesson about being true to yourself.
Being true to your self and true to the Lord is paramount to living the Christian life. Christ asks us to follow him, not just when it’s convenient or easy, but also when we are ignored or mocked for our faith. If others have died for their convictions, then that part of me which doesn’t serve the Lord must also die. Society may scoff and laugh at those who believe in angels, heaven and hell, but for those of us who know the truth, it is just one more obstacle for us to work around as we journey to the kingdom of heaven.
Be true to your self when the world says no. Be true to the Lord even if your friends laugh at him. Be true to the Church, even if your family tries to push you away from it. Be true to the traditions, norms and lessons of the holy fathers, even if society tries to change what tradition means.
Thank you for reading my friends. I will admit, this wasn’t the post I sat down to write, but I am so happy with how it came out. Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you all next time.