If nobody sees it, does it matter? Is it real?
We live in an era of publicly-groomed lives. We carefully manage the image we reveal to the world. We photoshop our portraits; we filter our Instagram pics; we tidy up our Facebook posts.
But what are we really like behind the face we put out into the world? Who are we in private?
We often undervalue the importance of our private practices.
- If we won’t get public applause, do we want to do it?
- If there is no outward reward, do we exercise self-discipline?
- If we lack the desire to do it alone, do we forget it altogether?
What we often forget is this:
The outside stuff—the stuff that people see—is a direct result of our inner stuff.
What we think about and what we do and what we value when we’re alone will be reflected to the outside world when we’re together.
“And just as our bodies need daily refreshing, so do our souls.”
– Richard Rogers
Think about it spiritual terms. That’s what Rogers does in Holy Helps for a Godly Life. This week’s readings, chapters 4-6, begin focusing on the private spiritual disciplines as opposed to the public disciplines addressed in chapters 1-3.
“Therefore, without the private helps, the public are less profitable. For example, coming to church (the only way many know of serving God) cannot do that good to the best Christians which is to be looked for, if it is not accompanied with the private helps.”
To devote time to praying in private or meditating on truth, we first have to wake up to its value. Without a sense of its worth, we won’t do it.
Once we realize the importance of private practices, the more likely we’ll be to do them.
Make It Easier
Rogers suggests we can improve our private practices by making them easier.
- Set a time for your meditation.
- Read scripture or other spiritual books to prompt your thoughts.
- Pray about real things happening right in front of you.
Outward improvement begins from the inside. When we take care of the inner self, our outward self will show it.
“Holy meditation on our estate and on God’s bounty toward us frames us after God’s image. And this works great things in our hearts.”
When we invest ourselves in God in our private world, we’re more apt to notice his grace in our public world. We’re then better equipped to help others and to spread peace.
If we want to better love others in public ways, let’s begin in private.
* * *
Do you have a favorite spiritual discipline you do in private? How does it prepare you for public service? Please share in the comments.
- Who to Love? For How Long? Everybody, Always
- When You Are Confused, Is God?