You know the guy I am talking about. Maybe he was a high school chemistry teacher or a buddy from college or maybe a crazy old uncle – he was the guy who wore too much cologne. I don’t know what motivates too much cologne guy to regularly over spray. Maybe he is worried that he smells badly otherwise. Maybe he thinks this is the way to get the ladies. Maybe it is just habit and he doesn’t know any better. What I do know is that whatever his motivation, he isn’t aware his odor is overwhelming.
This morning as I was getting ready, I accidently sprayed one spray more cologne than normal and I suddenly became super worried, that for at least today, I was going to be that guy. I was going to be the stinky cologne guy. In fact, not only was I worried I was going to be outrageously odiferous, but I began to fret about an even worse fate – no one would tell me. The only thing worse that not being self aware about some personal fault, would be not having anyone in my life willing to tell me, warn me, correct me. What if I went through life and no one tried to help me by calling me out. As I write this I am beginning to worry that maybe I AM cologne guy every day and no one is telling me. Quick, smell your computer screen and tell me if my blog smells too strong. (Man, I hope you didn’t actually do that.) I digress.
Maybe there are people in my life who I should be challenging, warning, correcting. I don’t mean about the cologne thing (though maybe that too); I mean about important things. I think there is something truly holy and good about helping out our friends and neighbors by inviting them to change. If that is true, then we need to figure out a way to challenge our friends without offending and alienating them.
Being called out is hard. No one likes to be told they are falling short or outright screwing up. This is why people react so crazy to being invited to admit fault and confess sins – they don’t like to be wrong. People don’t get too crazy about being told about spinach in their teeth or static electricity mucking up an outfit, but when we start to get into the realm of personal behavior people tend to freak out when corrected.
I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know how to do this personally, and I am not sure how to do this communally/institutionally. What I do know is that at the end of the day the only valid and appropriate motivation is love. The only reason we can ever call someone out is because we love them, and we want them to be happy, healthy, and holy. Anything other than that is self-righteous judgment which stinks worse than cologne guy.