Scotch Tape Christians

In our small group – (cough: Sunday School) – discussion yesterday at church we discussed the need for transparency in our lives as Christians. Here is how our pretend conversation went:

Me: Let’s talk about transparency.
Guy 1: I’d love to.
Me: Great! What do you think on the subject?
Guy 1: That’s none of your business.
Me: Okay….anyone else.
Guy 2: I think it is a good idea for us to talk about transparency.
Me: So…you think transparency is a good thing?
Guy 2: Haven’t I already shared enough?

By all appearances, transparency is a murky dialogue. How, with who and when should we be transparent? Lets admit it – most of us typically reflect the extremes. We become a walking chalk board (blank of course) or we’re a puddle of sweet, pliable emotional putty spilling our proverbial beans to all comers.  Perhaps then an evaluation is in order. Or to think of it another way, let us first become transparent concerning our transparency.  After all, it seems clear to me that Scripture is intent on encouraging us to some sort of transparency (Do I need to defend this?). I have put together the following guidelines.

  1. Duct Tape Christians: First thing most people think of when Duct Tape is referenced is that if fixes anything and everything. Unless you are one  of those hip 80 Christians still toting around your Christian Duct Tape T-shirt that you wear with your Jams. The T-shirt that reads “People use duct tape to fix everything….God uses nails.” Deep.  But in an attempt to go deeper…There are multiple traits that reveal the Duct Tape Christian. First, the Duct Tape Christian wants to fix everyone else. She is all about your transparency and getting involved with your problems. Second, she is as clear as duct tape – the vintage style – an impenetrable slate of stainless steel honed to a high gloss finish. No matter how hard you try there is no penetrating that solid exterior. For those who don’t believe in invisible force fields then you clearly have not met the Duct Tape Christian. That’s right – the only thing transparent about this person is just have tough she really is. She is the heroine of the Stoics. Some have mistaken her for a statue or a mime pretending to be a statue. Little did you know it was a day when she was wearing her emotions on her sleeves. Third, Duct Tape Christians like to spend their time actually sticking you and  molding you into their perception of you. This all began because someone pressed Duct Tape Christian into transparency. Little did this initial victim realize that Duct Tape Christian is well versed in martial arts. When pressed the strength of Duct Tape Christian is revealed. No matter how hard you fight against them you just can’t win. The duct tape is too powerful. You will be molded into the likeness of the cross.
  2. Electrical Tape Christians: Electrical Tape Christians will appear to be the exact opposite of the Duct Tape Christian, but in truth they are very similar. The difference? Electrical Tape Christians are gregarious. They come across will public, bubbly, boisterous personalities that naturally start a “lets get acquainted” party when ever they enter the room. He is the life of the party. Only problem is that he is just as transparent as Duct Tape. The problem with Electrical Tape Christian is that he doesn’t deliver as promised. Think about electrical tape – what exactly does it do? Protect you from currents of electricity? Please. Honestly, I have more confidence in Duct Tape. Duct Tape has a longer shelf life – especially when wrapped around copper wires without becoming brittle and falling apart. Everyone knows your best option when dealing with electricity is getting those shrink coatings to hair-dry around the wires. Electrical Tape Christian guy looks so promising as a friend, but just doesn’t deliver as advertised. There just is no transparency available. Ever try to tear electrical tape? It stretches and tears in awkward, unpredictable seams with no coherent alignment to what you intended when you first went to tear it. It is the bipolar tape in this regard. You are in for some major surprises if you try to test the flexibility (and availability) of Electrical Tape Christian. An unfortunate result of being an Electrical Tape Christian is that he thinks there is only one appropriate situation in which to be transparent. Just as theoretical as the use of Electrical Tape is the scenario in which he is transparent. While it is possible, it has never be actual.
  3. Masking Tape Christian: Everything is not as it seems. If there is one type of tape that doesn’t deliver at all its masking tape. No strength, no stickiness, no elasticity, no transparency. Its called masking tape because it masks the fact that its not tape. You just haven’t caught on. Enough said.
  4. Scotch Tape Christians: Scotch Tape Christians are exactly the opposite of Duct Tape Christians. They can’t help but be completely transparent to all they come across. Just think of someone who is a chronic vomiter (is that a word?) and now change that vomit from stomach contents to personal history and you get the Scotch Tape Christian. She just cannot but help to empathize with everyone.  She wants you to know how much she cares by sharing her most intimate secrets with you. But make no mistake, despite the incredible courage it takes to be so transparent she doesn’t have the constitution to handle betrayal. Scotch tape is great for one thing and one thing only – transparency. If you are looking for strength, forget it. Scotch Tape Christian just doesn’t have the fortitude for betrayal.
  5. Gorilla Tape Christians: Everyone knows about Gorilla Glue. Well, now they have Gorilla Tape! It comes in the color clear too. It is everything that the Scotch Tape Christian wants to be – invisible but super strong! Not invisible…transparent. I keep getting those two confused. The danger with Gorilla Tape Christian is that once Gorilla Tape Christian gets a hold of you there is no escape. He is just too strong. His transparency is authentic, but his personality is magnetic. Once he decides to have a relationship with you there is no power on earth that will break the bonds of that relationship.  Unlike Superman, Gorilla Tape Christian has no natural weaknesses.
  6. Frog Tape Christians: Frog Tape Christians are a wonderful blend of what masking tape always wanted to be, but this Christian has boundaries. While Frog Tape doesn’t have the gloss of electrical tape or the sheen of Duct Tape, its matte exterior promises a subtle texture that has depth, isn’t overwhelming in strength, but has enough hold. It isn’t a window pane for all to see, but it shows potential. Most importantly Frog Tape Christian knows where the boundaries are in relationships. This means Frog Tape Christian understands balance, knowing when to share and with whom.

Reality is that most of these types are appropriate at different points and with different people. It is likely that we all are a little of each while most of us probably live life closer to the ends of the Tape Spectrum. For this reason I’ve put together the following diagram to help you in discerning a general balance of boundaries with whom to be transparent.

A brief explanation is necessary. The table is meant to reflect, in some degree, the people to whom you should be transparent and in what way you should be transparent. In general, the idea is that the farther away from the relational epicenter of your being the less transparent you become. However, please be warned that there are exceptions to this rule as there are exceptions to all rules except for the exception rule for which there is no exception. Beginning at the epicenter then:

  1. Be Gorilla glued via Gorilla Tape to your spouse. How close is too close? Think of it like this – superglue is so powerful that you need an emergency medical intervention to procure your finger tips from what ever you were uberbonded to when, by chance, you happened to let a dabble of superglue come in contact with your skin and said hypothetical object.  What possibly can bond closer than that? Gorilla products. Let me tell you how they work. They change the chemical compounds of the two items so that when they come together their very molecular makeup changes to match one another. That is why you never Gorilla Glue yourself to the side of a volcano. And that is exactly why you do Gorilla Glue (via Gorilla Tape) yourself to your spouse and no one else. All the transparency, all the strength and all the bonding necessary for a healthy marriage. Perhaps you want to make every relationship as strong as your marriage. Therefore, you reason, that Gorilla Tape is the necessary ingredient. Caution, you have just broken through the Frog Tape and lost sense of boundaries. Different relationships require different sorts of additives, latex, elasticity, etc for a healthy bond. Not everything in the world needs Gorilla Tape. Lets go back to the basic principle of Gorilla Tape to show you how dangerous this approach is. Say you do treat every relationship with the bonding that occurs with Gorilla Tape, what would happen? The entire universe would be turned into one large molecule. Remember that Gorilla Tape transforms all the chemical compounds to match? Perhaps the universe would become a large ice cube or just a soap bubble or a wad of ABC gum. That is scary – and all because you don’t have boundaries.
  2. Scotch Tape yourself to a select few. Ideally we are talking about people who are equally or more mature than you. In this collection of rarity you will have, perhaps, a handful of close friends. Of course, scotch tape yourself to likeness. Think of it this way – who uses Duct Tape to secure the Scotch Tape? No one. But a lot of people double up (or triple, quadruple, etc) Scotch Tape. For example, I’m convinced all remote controls are designed by 3M (the maker of Scotch Tape). How else do you explain that every single remote control in the world needs Scotch Tape to close the battery panel after six months of use? And one layer never suffices. Yes it might for the first week, but everyone knows that when ever the new TV Guide arrives that a new layer of Scotch Tape is to be applied to the remotes. This axiom is as sure as changing the batteries in your smoke detectors when time changes. So Scotch Tape yourself to “like” People. You know, they share common things with you, such as Legitimacy, Integrity, Knowability, Emotional availability (get it? LIKE. Do I have to point everything out?). Since we are talking about an intimate circle they should be people with whom you are safe. Don’t place yourself into a compromising situation.  Stay away from the opposite sex in this circle – unless you include people like your parents and/or siblings in this circle. But why would you do that? (kidding mom).
  3. Frog Tape: Almost every single person you come across in life. The nice thing about Frog Tape is that it has a respect for paint. And paint, in return, respects the Frog Tape. They both understand the boundaries – and because they do they have a stupendous relationship, that is until the Frog Tape is torn of the wall, crumpled into a ball and then lit on fire. Okay, okay – don’t apply this last part of the simile to your life (Insurance disclaimer: I’m not actually suggesting you go set yourself on fire. Just to be transparent with you that would really bother me if you tried it. I would also argued you too are bothered but in a different way). No ripping yourself away from others, no crumpling and NO fires. But we should have a general sense of a respect and desire to make ourselves transparent to a degree.
  4. Electrical Tape: Well electrical Tape is elastic and that does come in handy because we do need some flexibility in our relationships. Also it is good upon initial introductions to be Electrical Tape to a degree. Think: Be friendly. Get to know people so you can transition into Frog Tape:
  5. Duct Tape is only appropriately used in situations not as a relational philosophy. Don’t be the hermit who lives among others. Let people in. Of course, there are times to be Duct Tape. Like when your wife just DESTROYED your favorite dinner by adding a secret ingredient that makes you want to puke. While that has NEVER happened to me, my plan, if it should is to keep quiet, eat the food and be thankful it wasn’t arsenic she added. At least, I don’t think it was arsenic. My stomach does hurt.  You know the mantra “Don’t say anything at all if you can’t say something nice.” That is a good way to view when to apply Duct Tape Transparency. Unfortunately we typically apply Duct Tape when we are hurting because, hey Duct Tape fixes everything. Only it doesn’t here. Remember some wounds need to have air to heal. Not saying “air it out” but I’m saying “don’t keep it sealed with Duct Tape.” Take chances. People will betray you. I think life is worth the cost. Don’t Duct Tape those around you. Be free like a bird, which clearly is not like Duct Tape.
  6. Masking Tape: I can’t think of anyone who deserves this – ever. Think two-face, duplicity, gossip, slanderer, politician, lawyer, passive aggressive. Don’t fall into this trap. Think of the person in your relational world that you find hardest to love and then determine to not be Masking Tape Transparent to this person. Fake is not in fashion.
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