The phrase “swimming in a fishbowl” is one that gets used a lot when you are going through the process to be ordained.
fishbowl- a glass sphere in which everything can be seen. THERE ARE NO SECRETS.
This should be abundantly clear for clergy. After all, when we are ordained we take a vow that certainly touches on this.
“Will you do you best to pattern your life [and that of your family, or household, or community] in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?”
This vow is made for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that living in the fishbowl means people are looking at you and toward you all of the time. All of the time.
I certainly agree that being a priest means living a different life. And being held to a higher standard. I go to bed early on Saturday nights (except when the kids won’t sleep). I go to church (almost) every Sunday- which means my family and I don’t take spur of the moment vacations to the cabin for the weekend or sleep in Sunday mornings. I read the Bible. A lot…like, really a lot. And I read what other people, who also read the Bible a lot, have to say about the Bible.
I keep my Facebook clean and don’t comment (often) on crazy stuff I read on the internet (because let’s be real, there is a ton of crazy stuff on the internet).
And I encourage my family to do the same. My kids are at church before most people are even awake and are still there once most people have gone home and are watching the afternoon game. My husband comes to most events and worships most Sunday’s (except when he’s home with a sick kid). I do my best to keep our family- as the vow asks- in a Jesus pattern.
Fishbowl living hard at times. But thankfully, the vow only asks, “do your best.”
Which means there are times when we mess up.
Like when Addison was mispronouncing a lot of words, so she stayed home 2 Sunday’s in a row because “Sock” just wasn’t coming out right. Or when I forget about a commitment. Or when life happens and the sermon isn’t quite what I would like it to be- not even good enough, just enough.
There are times when my temper gets away from me, when my hair isn’t perfect, when I’m not in a good mood, and when I absolutely just want to be at home in my pajamas watching crap TV (ok- sleeping while crap TV is on).
But I’m trying.
A friend recently shared with me this: the way we act as Christians either reinforces or challenges someone’s opinion of God. Which is another way to look at fishbowl living. Are my actions speaking well of God? Or am I giving God a bad name?
The way we act as Christians either reinforces or challenges someone’s opinion of God.
Not everyone takes vows to pattern their lives to be wholesome examples…but maybe everyone should.
As Christians, it means something different when we show up for people. When we apologize and admit to being wrong. When we take responsibility for our actions, both good and messed up. Because it isn’t just us that we speak for. We represent all Christians, Christianity as an institution and religion, and even God, to some people. It’s recognizing that we are both awesome and sinners- and even awesome sinners sometimes. And it means welcoming and loving all people as your neighbor. It means striving for excellence knowing that it won’t always happen- and that simply trying your best is all it takes. And when trying just won’t happen, that a new day will dawn and you can try again. It means something different when we do- or don’t do- things as Christians.
And thankfully- because we aren’t striving for perfection- there is always room for more people in the bowl. No one is too good or too bad to come and swim. It takes some work to be in the bowl- but we are all better off if more people jump in.