Thursday, May 17, 2007

I was asked by a choir friend last night how anyone could be so transparent as to write about their personal life in such a public way as a blog. I'm not sure my explanation satisfied her, it didn't satisfy me, even though I've given it some thought. I belabored the idea of transparency last year after taking this blog from a private status to a public one, so I won't recycle that.

What I thought about on my way home from choir was that I grew up in what is sometimes referred to as a "goldfish bowl." A pastor's family had less privacy when I was a child than they do now. The benefit of being scrutinized 24-7 is that the subjects of this scrutiny develop a tough hide. We're not impervious to criticism, we just don't take it as seriously as some do. I learned that criticism says more about the critic than the criticized. People in small churches and communities, for the most part, finally realized it was to their own benefit not to pay more attention to what the pastor and his family said, did, wore, or dated than to their own families.

The words, "Everything you say and do is a reflection on your father," was an admonishment my mother frequently used trying to control her 3 strong willed children. And it made me cringe, like fingernails on a chalkboard. If my father needed his children's good behavior to prop up his public image, he was on shaky ground, indeed. "Let's give 'em something to talk about," was often my first thought, if not my spoken response.

"Preacher's kids are the worst ones," is a cliche I still hear whenever someone finds out my father was a pastor. Some of us worked hard at giving pk's their bad reputation. Truth is, I knew kids who acted much worse than we did, but they did not live in a goldfish bowl. There was a time when I so deeply resented our conspicuousness, I could have easily become a recluse. I still struggle with it, but I don't want to go to the opposite extreme and be an exhibitionist, either. Knowing where to draw the line, or in contemporary parlance, "set the boundaries," has always been difficult for me. Learning discretion has been a life-long challenge. I enjoy a small amount of attention with some control over what is revealed and what is kept private. The blog gives me that. Hopefully, it helps someone along their way; then I don't feel completely narcissistic.

Maybe that's why I have not given the web address to this blog to but a couple of people at church. If the rest happen to find it, that's ok, but it won't be because I gave it to them. There are limits to what I am willing to publish from the "Shameless Plug and Self Promotion Department." The rest of you know me well enough to put things I say in their proper context, at least, I hope you do. And I'm not likely to see you face to face every few days like church friends.

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