The Gap between Living & Knowing

In recent years, I have boycotted The Gap, even though their long and lean denim fits my 36″ inseam like no other. Their mannequins appear anorexic and having overcome an eating disorder myself, I refuse to shop at a place that displays women in such an unhealthy manner.

Besides the literal store, I don’t always love the gap – the gap between the ideal and the real, the gap between start and finish, the gap between surface and depth, knowledge and wisdom. The gap is so… well, grey. Unsure, unknown, unstable are words that come to mind. Because of those words, emotions can swell and stir – every insecurity lurking inside us wiggles its way to our mind, coercing its way out of our mouths, threatening relationships and damaging our assurance.

The biggest deficit in my life lies in the gap between living and knowing. In my life, there are things I know and then there are things I live. I know I should drive the speed limit, but I  pretty much always drive nine miles over the limit; I know I shouldn’t be irrational on the 101 Freeway, but other drivers make it impossible for me to behave like a sane person; I know that Trader Joes chocolate covered Bingg cherries are not good for me, but we pretty much eat them every night.

I have worse examples – I know about humility and honor, but sometimes I live pride and anger.

In leading people, I see that others struggle with what they know and what they live. I have compassion for that struggle, because I have personally had to overcome issues in my life, in my mind and in my soul that keep me from living what I know.

As believers, we’re called to reach out to people – to love the orphan and the widow, to care for the poor and destitute, to give voice to the voiceless, offer hope to the hopeless. Its uncomfortable and its messy and I wonder if sometimes we’d prefer to know this instruction from our faith, rather than live it. Now that the gap between knowing and living this principle is closing in my life, I see why.

While its the most fulfilling, rewarding effort I’ve ever made, it’s also the hardest. Injustice has many layers – the micro and macro-levels make my head spin and when it comes to community development, the requirement is “in and among” the people. What legend from history ever successfully led a movement they were not intricately connected to? From historical records, I deduce that heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, or even Jesus never graduated from the trenches.

I read leadership books, and as a growing leader I should… And if we’re not careful, we can focus so much on how we can change and tweek ourselves and our behavior, how we can write better blogs, speak on larger platforms and somewhere our desire to grow becomes a pursuit that’s all about us and obtaining significance through achievements… even in the church. We lose sight of the fact that we’re called to engage and serve, to remain present and reach, to love honestly and bravely.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.”

Listen, I don’t know about you, but on my best day, I am still a jacked up human being. I have more than one gap to close between living and knowing. Where do you struggle to live what you know? How big is the gap?

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