Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?

“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?” Every time I hear this song on the radio it triggers a train of thought about how we behave in private and in public and how they differ. My daughter and I used to giggle when we would see someone at a traffic light behaving in their car as if they were in private. It always surprised us that they seemed to forget that others could see them picking their nose or examining a zit. There are many things that we do in the privacy of our homes that we really shouldn’t be doing when others are watching. And as children we are usually taught which behaviors are private ones and which one’s are publically allowed. If our parents have not stressed this enough, the other children will shame us into cooperation by a very young age. Recently someone posted a YouTube video of a senator picking in his ear and then it appears as if he is snacking on whatever he had found…of course we found this disgusting as we were taught, we don’t eat our boogers or anything we pick off our bodies! He seemed to forget we were “looking”!

When I was growing up my mother would remind us as we left the house to remember, “who we were and to whom we belonged”. It annoyed us as kids when she would say that and we would always leave rolling our eyes. But now it rings in my mind as a mantra…that my life and my example are being watched and that my life should be an example and Christ-like. I fail miserably at this, each day I am sure but it at least is a reminder of what I should be striving for.

As I began writing my classes to teach Massage Therapy ethics, I began to think about how we behave as a profession and how it reflects on others in the profession when someone does not adhere to a high ethical standard. Recently a Wilson man allegedly killed his girlfriend while his newborn infant and her young toddler were present, the paper repeatedly mentioned that he was a massage therapist. I was horrified by the murder and angry that his profession was mentioned so many times. It seemed unrelated but obviously the writer thought massage therapists should be held to a higher standard of conduct. It also seemed that they were surprised that he had received a license in the first place since he had a previous criminal history. This concerned me enough to question our state board and the board’s attorney extensively about their judgment in issuing his license. We do not have the luxury of being lax in our moral character because our profession demands that we be above reproach.

I believe as Christians, we have this same requirement; we do not have the luxury of being judgmental and unloving. Christ left us a very clear moral and ethical code of conduct that we are to live by…we are to love one another and do unto others as we would have them do unto us.   But how do we behave when we think others are not watching…I believe it is very telling when we read numerous news stories about “someone doing the right thing”, returning a found wallet with the money still in it, returning the bag of money the armored car lost on the street, helping a stranger when they had an accident and it was dark and a little scary to stop. And we never know when someone is watching us. As parents we learn this when our babies reach a certain age…the day you realize your toddler is following behind you with her little play phone held between her ear and shoulder and is saying hmmmm…just exactly like you are. Or the first time you slam on brakes and before that “word” can come out of your mouth, the little mouth behind you in their car seat spits it out for you. I’ve heard it said that children hear very little that you say and actually model what you do…so the “do as I say, not as I do” just isn’t okay when raising kids.

But the hard part comes, when we are alone…are we being Christ-like, are we being all that God intended or are we taking a break from our struggle of Christ-likeness and letting our human nature take the lead. Are we living in a way in private and in public so that others know we are Christians? Are we looking for the reward in public for something we have done in private? We tell our children that the reward is in the doing but then we sneer when someone doesn’t offer a reward when we return the wallet intact. Do we pray to be seen? Do we pray at all if we are alone and just grabbing a quick meal? Are we more likely to pray when someone is watching, so they can see what a great Christian we are or are we ashamed to offer grace when others might see us? Are we Christians on Sunday only or is there no doubt to others that we are Christians?

©Amber E Keithley 2014

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