I’m an introvert. I can function as an extrovert for brief periods of time, when the situation calls for it. But most of my thoughts, words, and attitudes never go public. I think that some of this is just part of my DNA. But some of this is also a learned response to the reactions of others when I have confided my innermost thoughts. It’s more comfortable for all of us when I just stay quiet.
I remember my childhood shock when meeting extroverts. They said and did things I would never say or do. I flushed and cringed at their transparency. I admired their fearlessness.
Around the time I entered my teens, ABC Sports began telling the personal stories of both famous and obscure athletes under the heading, “Up Close and Personal.” It was an extension of their coverage of the Wide World of Sports and the Olympics, which most viewers would never otherwise have the opportunity to see. ABC not only broadcast the competitions and reported the results, they introduced us to the people involved. There were many poignant stories of athletes who had repeatedly suffered the agony of defeat, but later experienced the thrill of victory. The people were often heroic and the stories often very inspirational.
But some were not.
Some of the athletes, we learned, were deeply flawed and tragic figures. Their personal lives were sordid, decadent, and dysfunctional. They were anti-heroes. They made horrific choices but succeeded despite their depravity.
During those same years, the U.S. president was taped, recording his private conversations in the Oval Office. As long as those tapes were private, most Americans, and most of the world heard only what he wanted us to hear. But once those tapes became public, his character was exposed for all to see. I remember how shocking it was when his private language and attitudes became public.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the days of privacy, especially for public figures, are long since past. You may have also noticed that the current U.S. president is highly extroverted. His broadcast extroversion turns out to be almost always painful for someone.
The problem in looking at anyone—not just the president but also you and me—up close and personal is that the flaws are revolting. Revolt is the natural response.
But I'm reminded of a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman—"Miracle of Mercy":
If the truth was known and a light was shown, on every hidden part of my soul, most would turn away, shake their head and say, He still has such a long way to go. If the truth was known you’d see, that the only good in me is Jesus—oh, it’s Jesus.
If the walls could speak of the times I’ve been weak, when everybody thought I was strong, could I show my face if it weren’t for the grace, of the one who’s known the truth all along? If the walls could speak, they’d say, My only hope is the grace of Jesus—the grace of Jesus.
But, oh, the goodness and the grace in Him. He takes it all and makes it mine, causes His light in me to shine, and He loves me with a love that never ends—just as I am, not as I do. Could this be real? Could this be true? This could only be a miracle. This could only be the miracle of mercy.
It’s easy, obvious, and popular to revolt against things that are revolting.
Mercy is difficult. It's undeserved. In fact, it’s miraculous.