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Oct 23, 2011

Wax Off

Today in church, the etymology of the word “sincere” was discussed. Let me disclaim that the story cannot truly be corroborated, but that’s not really the point. Consider this a Liberty-Valance moment and permit me to print the legend.

The word derives from the Romans’ love for marble statues. These were very difficult to sculpt without breakage. So the typical sculptor would re-attach broken parts (limbs and so on) with wax (cera) and cover it up so the wax would not be seen. However, the best stores would only sell the best statues, the ones which were whole and unbroken. They had a sign above the store saying: “Sine Cera,” without wax.
Myth or not, this had a profound effect on me today. There are two reasons. First is because of a particular phrase that my former fiancé said to me just a few days prior to our finality. She expressed how I wasn’t quite the knight in shining armor she had believed me to be and now she saw there were cracks in my armor. I don’t fault her for this and it would be improper to reveal the full context, but it was said in an honest and respectable way.
The second reason complements the first. The lesson in church was about parenting children and this specific point was about demonstrating a sincere faith – because children learn from what they observe, not what they hear. If parents wax-coat their behavior and try to fool their children, it is insincere and the folly will be revealed. To truly be sincere with your children, you must allow the flaws, the cracks, the imperfections be revealed.
This concept is true for anyone with whom I connect. For there to be any honest sincerity with my children, with my friends, with my peers or with my lover – I must be unafraid to admit to my imperfections. If I try to hide them, conceal them, deny them, then I probably am only exposing them and fooling myself. I must accept myself, flaws and all, before I can trust someone else with those secrets…or what I think I’m keeping secret.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean I have to like my flaws or be complacent about them. To say, “I have anger issues and that’s just how I am, so the world will have to adapt to my tantrums!” is not reasonable, but it is the dangerous other end of the spectrum in this view. I am not a marble statue. I can have personal growth, heal and seal the cracks…or at least lessen their depth.
All in all, the point is about me being honest. I’ve long said I know my strengths and weaknesses – and I do. While I don’t want to advertise my flaws, I do recognize that my ego makes me insecure and insincere about them. Today’s dose of humility hasn’t been easy to swallow, but its restorative powers are precisely what I need to be a better human being.

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