I once heard Hilary McBride break down where the word "belief" came from. She explained that the Germanic routes simply mean "by life." This struck me deeply.
Throughout my life, I've heard so many clichés about this exact topic.
"If you want to know someone's true priorities look at their calendar..."
"A person's search history tells you more about them than they will..."
"Ignore everything they say but listen to everything they do..."
In my evangelical upbringing, there was a huge emphasis on being able to articulate your faith, making a case for Christ, spreading the gospel, etc. The excssive emphasis on words and persuasion created an unexpected biproduct. I could say all the right things, while doing none of them.
But this isn't a uniquely Christian phenomenon. I have seen similar cases like mine in every walk of life that I've come across.
But I started taking another look at my life and asking a difficult yet simple question: Based on my actions, what matters most to me? As a husband and father, I want to believe that my wife and children are my #1 priority. But this self-reflection showed me that wasn't the case.
It was my phone that took the top spot.
I use it for work, to keep in touch with out-of-state relatives, for this website, to order groceries. I had plenty of justifications for why this was acceptable. But that all came crashing down during one night's bath-time.
I was texting, listening to music and reading an article. A text came by from the grandparents, "Miss the kiddoes, send cute pictures." As I went to take a picture, my kids quickly tried to knock my phone out of my hand. First my son, then my daughter. They were both trying to break my phone.
I was furious.
I went off.
I was Bruce Banner, but instead of the Hulk, I turned into a grade A ***hole.
I am truly ashamed of how angry I got with them.
But in that moment I realized that I had created this was my fault. I had created a space of animosity and resentment towards my phone. This single electronic literally stood between me and them. How many nights had I spent more time with my phone than with them? How many times had I ignored them because of texts or YouTube or someone's new post? How often did it interrupt our time? How often was I actually paying attention to them?
How rarely was I actually paying attention to them?
My lifestyle showed had created this "us versus them" mentality. My kids versus my phone for my attention. So in a spark of brilliance my children had an epiphany: Break dad's phone.
Since then, I try to avoid declaring what my beliefs and priorities are. Instead, I ask my lifestyle to tell me what they are.
It's been painful.
But it's also been amazing. I am course correcting more easily and with less conflict. But I am also getting to celebrate more. I am getting to truly enjoy my successes because I see them as a victory of excellent alignment between my desires and actions.
But my favorite byproduct is what it does for my family and friends. They get to worry less and less about being the messenger that gets shot whenever trying to help me get back on track with the man that I want to be. I get to beat them to the punch, apologize first, course correct, make changes before it turns into a fight with a loved one.
Before it turns into my toddlers getting yelled at for trying to reclaim their father.
So I encourage you to learn from Hilary McBride as I have. Ask yourself, what does your lifestyle say about you? About your priorities? Where do you need to course correct? Where do you need to celebrate because you're perfectly aligned?