I often find myself bouncing between believing and not. Growing up I was shown what it was like to put up a false front so to speak. At home often my parents fought and Dad would say horrific things. Then when we would go to Church or to someone's home we had to put on this face that everything was alright with the family.
I am trying to be a positive example of what a Christian for my son but find myself frustrated. What do I do?
I am sorry that your mom’s and dad’s hypocrisy is having a negative impact on your faith. This is not unusual because we often picture God based somewhat on the character and actions of our parents. However, our faith is not based on mom and dad’s behaviors. Our faith is grounded in the resurrection—the tomb was empty on Easter morning. Spending more time gazing at the life and teachings of Jesus and less on your parental pretenders is a powerful way to replace doubt with belief.
By the way, you might consider that most fighting people are dealing with numerous personal issues. Even as you sorrow over their fighting and hurting each other and the others in the family, consider cutting them some slack. Remember that “hurting people hurt people.”
Everyone wears masks. One mask Julie and I sometimes put on is the one we call “the church face.” We were in San Diego on a family vacation with our children and Julie’s mom and dad. Grandparents and grandchildren don’t mix well at Sea World. We stepped behind the bushes to have a rather heated discussion as to what to do next. Suddenly, a Casas Church couple walked up. Instantly, the fighting stopped and we all put on the “Church Face!” After they left, we all marveled at how quickly we transitioned from fighting family to loving Christians. We were well practiced at using the “church face” mask. Fortunately, as we have matured in Christ, +that mask is lost somewhere in the back of the closet. We seldom feel the need to utilize it.
We all want to put our best foot forward. No one wants to display character traits which are not the best! The problem occurs when we are attempting to lead double lives! There is a difference between hypocrisy and occasionally putting on the proper masks in social settings. Hypocrisy occurs when we claim to be someone we are not and we wear a fake mask most all of the time. Hypocritical living promotes all sorts of dysfunctional behavior—and can lead to dysfunctional behavior in our spiritual lives as well.
As teenagers we wear four or five masks depending on the social group we’re associating with at any particular moment. We have different masks for peers, parents, teachers, acquaintances and close friends. How we represent ourselves to one group will be different than how we represent ourselves to another. We are subconsciously in the process of deciding who we will be as we transition into adulthood. Eventually, we decide and then discard all the other masks. Unfortunately, many people keep several masks and never figure out who they really are. In my opinion you father has more than one mask.
Hopefully, early on, we decide that we are Christians. In other words, “I am a Christian and who you see is who I really am.” Few of us throw away the other masks all at once. As we grow to spiritual maturity, more and more masks are discarded until only one is left. When people think of us, we remind them of the Lord Jesus. Paul revealed that as we mature, we even throw away the last mask: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In raising your son, I advise that you continue you spiritual growth and practice continually reflecting the face of Jesus. This is the best thing you can do for your son’s future spiritual life and character.