I was watching my favourite television show the other night, it's called 48. It's a real life expose on murder and their subsequent police investigation. On this episode a detective talked about a victim and he said this 'everyone has got a public life, a private life, and a secret life, and it got me thinking.
These three aspects of our lives are fascinating areas of our lives, all important to God, yet aspects neglected by us. Around me, every day I see so much effort put into the public lives of people, from women with make-up, to sleave tattoos on men; cars we drive, hair styles, fashion. This public life seemed everybody's focus, it is really only a third of our lives but it seemed to demand so much.
I left Facebook completely about 18 months ago for many reasons, reasons that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I think I got annoyed a lot with people blurring the lines between what is a person's public life and their private life.
I caught myself one day, after seeing one too many pictures of people's breakfast, another check in at a gym and one bitching rant; thinking 'get over yourself! What makes your live so important that you need to share it with the rest of the world'?
Thinking about it now, I know a lot of these people struggle in their private lives, God only knows about their secret lives. People who were happy couples posing for photos in beautiful locations were the next week broken up and attacking each other on social media.
As a Christian I have been on a journey. I believe you cannot learn, know and love God without coming to an understanding of yourself and others. In reading the Gospels it is easy to see Jesus was far more concerned with people's inner world's, not their public world.
Jesus scorned and even provoked people in the public realm, people who were community and religious and political leaders. He lived the other way round to our world, He was heavily invested in his secret life (his relationship with the Father), and his private life (his relationship to his disciples).
His inner world dictated his actions and attitude in his public life. How many people have this backwards now days? How many people's inner lives are dictated by their public lives?
The further on my journey, the less I find myself concerned with outward appearances. In public I care less and less if I am clean shaven or look shabby. Don't get me wrong, I am not a complete feral, but as I look at others I look beyond their public disguises. I don't just look at people, I find myself looking 'into' people.
This journey I have been on has enabled me to understand my own humanity and I feel somehow connected to others in this common humanity. Let me explain, our secret lives are very important to God, who we really are and how we really feel. This deep part of us is known by God but is largely secret to us. I remember reflecting on some of my actions as a young man, I was driven to certain actions that I couldn't understand.
I felt controlled by these forces. For example, a secret crush on a girl would make me go on a shopping spree; I needed to have the right look. If this crush showed interest in someone else, there was intense jealously and rejection, which could lead to some erratic behaviour.
Ruled my life
This secret life really ruled my life, driven by needs to feel love acceptance and belonging, I was also victim to the darker forces of jealously, fear, lust, greed and ambition.
What was worse was that a lot of this was played out in the public life of a church. These secret forces would dictate my private life. Who I became friends with, how I acted, what I said in my private life was all dictated to by these strong secret forces.
This secret life of us has been called many things over the years, the unconscious, spirit, self etc. All I know is that this was the part of me that needed saving, it needed delivering and transformation. God's saving power has been at work in my life for years now, and only in this state of transformation am I able to be free from the negative forces in my secret life.
Only now can I see how blind I was, how easily led astray I was, how much of a slave I was.
I would describe this saving power of God as a process of growing up. I have three kids and my eldest is nearly 18. I have seen the struggle she has had between these three spheres of life. How she sees life primarily through people's public lives and I must sound like a cynical broken record as I tell her how 'fake' this online world really is.
When you discover real 'life', that is Jesus, working in your secret life, it does make a lot of our public life look so manufactured. You can see through people's facades, actions and motives, It helps you to fulfil the command of loving other and we love ourselves.
Mark is married with 3 kids. He has been a youth worker for 10 years. He has worked in lay and paid church roles in various denominations for 15 years and is currently a member of the Adelaide Anglican Diocese. Mark has a B.A from Tabor College Adelaide.
Mark Flippance's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-flippance.html