Whenever I meet someone who doesn't have any apparent vices or character struggles I immediately think, "What are you hiding?" Something dark and twisted a life altering? Something that might go unnoticed now but in twenty years will devastate your life and everyone around you? If someone drinks too much it is pretty apparent what their issue is, and friends can easily diagnose and come around them to address it with love. What if someone has too much pride? Struggles with secret infidelity? Is consumed with greed and selfishness? These things aren't extremely visible, and can be hidden for long periods of time. They also can have temporarily profitable consequences. Consequences which can contribute to the desire to feed these secret sins.
The greediest most selfish investment banker might just get the most promotions as well, because he works on a commission, his profiteering allows for others to profit, so he is rewarded. His hunger for money will never be satisfied, and he might even chase it at the expense of his character because he believes that life rewards greed. When greed goes unchecked people suffer, like when the housing bubble popped. If we could have seen it coming we could have avoided a lot of suffering, but greed is hidden. Greed can be disguised as a positive thing.
How about the guy who cheats on his wife once, and subsequently realizes it's fun. It's dangerous and exciting, and while there is an initial pang of guilt he chooses to keep quiet and gets away with it. In the back of his mind, it's always an option because there are no immediate consequences. He eventually does it again, and again, until there is no more pang of guilt. He's having his cake and eating it too, but he's chasing this excitement and danger so carelessly that he slips up. He gets caught, but now the damage is done and his marriage is beyond repair. His lust came at the expense of his character, his family, and his way of life. Nobody saw it. Nobody could warn him. Nobody could read his thoughts and say to him, "Don't embellish that thought, that is dangerous, that will ruin your life."
We can privately rebuke our loved ones who struggle with the outward worship of idols; the habits we can all see and agree are dangerous when left unchecked. We can intervene in the lives of those who struggle with substance abuse. We can say to someone, "You've offended me by saying this." It's socially acceptable. But you can't really have an intervention for hidden pride, greed, lust or selfishness. There aren't many treatment programs for these extremely dangerous patterns of thought. This is why I prefer those people who struggle with the outward vices, or who at least are vocal about their inward ones. They're easier to diagnose and treat. They're often more honest about their shortcomings, and honesty is the key to any real behavioral change. Plus I relate to them.
I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve along with my struggles, and it's made me the recipient of criticism more than once. I think because I crave grace for my own shortcomings I am more likely to give grace to those who walk in my shoes. This isn't always true of everything, sometimes the most annoying people to you are the people struggling with things you haven't truly confronted in your own life. It's the whole, "First deal with the plank in your own eye so you will be able to see to the speck in your brothers eye" thing. We all want to fix everyone else before we fix ourselves. The person who annoys you most might be like you, or maybe how you think you "used to be." But thats just because you've picked an extreme, you've chosen to be against something outwardly in order to not really deal with it inwardly. It would take a post full of psychobabble to explain that this extreme stance really stems from self-loathing, but it's not something I'm an expert on so I'll spare you my elementary understanding of it all. The point is extremism is easy, its the whole honest-self-examination thing that requires some dedication.
I think those who have vices as opposed to deep and secret moral sins are in some ways able to escape the worst symptom at all: Denial. If you drink until you're drunk every night, and everyone is witness to this, then you really have no real way of denying the fact that you are an alcoholic. You are not as easily afforded denial as someone whose sins are more private. Denial is easy if nobody knows. If nobody brings it up.
Before I say anymore, let me say this: No I am not saying go do drugs and cuss and act like a total fool. If you derived that from the aforementioned lines, you might want to run a "fool-check" on yourself before proceeding. I am merely saying this: Everyone sins, and I prefer you keep your sins where I can see 'em. If you struggle with pride, greed, gossip, vanity, jealousy and lust (LIKE WE ALL DO) then be honest about it. Speak your mind, even if it bothers you, and then speak about how it bothers you. If you act perfect all the time, there are people like me are going to walk away going, "There's something wrong with that guy, and I can't really put my finger on it." You're just not going to connect on a deep level with anyone. You will garner only spite for your weirdness. If you develop a habit of this polished dishonesty, you'll probably ruin your life like Tiger Woods did.
There's something about honesty. I'll be honest and admit that I have little grace for those who are not being honest with themselves. It is wrong of me, but there is something about those people that really gets me. Those folks who do everything wrong, who make terrible decisions that ruin their lives and the lives of others, and then act like they aren't to blame. Like they're a "good person." In my opinion, the only thing that makes a person "good" is honesty. We all screw up, but when we hold on to denial we shift the blame: It's not my problem, someone else did this to me, made me this way. I am a product of my environment, my upbringing. Screw that, you're a product of thousands of choices you made and continue to make on a daily basis. The only person to blame for your sins is yourself. The second you realize that, and start owning it, is the second you start to become a "good" person in my book. Not that my book matters at all.
I think I'm rambling now, which is good because that's what this whole blog thing is for. If I was forcing lines it would probably lack passion and be boring to read. I guess what I'm trying to encourage is honesty in general. Be true to yourself and your peers, it might be hard and it might stir up some ugly feelings, but you will be blessed in the long run. In my book. :)