I have been a proponent of the One Word concept for over 10 years. Some of my words have been Presence, Joy, Mindfulness, Discipline, Boldness, and Battle. My One Word becomes a purpose that drives a set of action steps and goals in support.
In reflection to choose my One Word for 2024, I first settled on ‘Authentic,’ but realized I am generally authentic, I just have gaps. So, my aim is to become ‘Gapless,’ internally and externally. If I am not working to be gapless, then I am hoping to be who I believe and say I am – which is not a strategy. Being gapless is walking my talk, both within myself and within my community.
Gaps can create significant issues. False storefronts are facades that look great on the outside but are only window dressing. They hide the old and ugly storefront. If a fire gets going in the gap between, firemen have a huge problem fighting it because of the hidden nature of it. Even the smallest of gaps when under pressure can be disastrous. A gap created by a frozen O-ring not allowing a true seal caused the Challenger explosion.
“Watch the gap” is a safety warning issued to passengers while crossing the station platform to the train. If there is a gap, we must watch our steps more carefully lest we trip ourselves or, worse, fall into the opening. When the gap becomes too large it either can’t be crossed or we must walk on a tight rope that allows very little room for error. The more we drift from who we want to be, the harder it becomes to get back on course and some choose not to cross back.
I previously referred to being gap free in a blog about the path of trust. Hockey teams play what they call a ‘gap free’ defense. The concept is to minimize the gap to the opposing player. The bigger the gap, the more space and time the opponent can operate, the more opportunity for a mistake, and the more detrimental to the chances of success. The bigger the gap between our beliefs and behaviors, the more likely we fail to live the life we intend.
Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden saw hypocrisy in the gap between ‘Do as I say’ and ‘not as I do.’ Hypocrisy is the practice of feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not. The word “hypocrisy” entered the English language around 1200 with the meaning “the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness”. Today, “hypocrisy” often refers to advocating behaviors that one does not practice. A self-hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues or qualities or whose actions contradict their stated beliefs or feelings. Hypocrisy can be the gap that exists between our public life and our private life.
“The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere. They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts.”- Anatole France
Stephen Covey wrote, we all lead three lives: our public life, our private life, and our deep inner life. Our public life takes place in a community setting, where we interact with others. Our private life is away from the public—we may be alone, with a friend, or with family members. But our deep inner life is our most significant one. It is where our heart is. We alone have awareness and can align our actions such that all three lives authentically match. Too often, some of us live a life dictated by others. We act in a certain way because we believe it is the way society wants us to act. Be true to thyself, remember it is your boat.
“My worth to God in public is only what I am in private.” – Oswald Chambers
Being gapless also entails filling the gaps that occur in our communities. Jackson Browne’s song, “Standing in the Breach,” uses the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake as a rallying cry of the need to “bend our backs and hearts together standing in the breach.” We all know volunteer organizations desperate for an additional set of hands. We all have neighbors in need. Being gapless is being Christ like, our actions are to enhance the holiness of life before God.
In the ancient world of the Bible, cities had walls surrounding them to provide protection from enemies. When the wall was breached, the city was vulnerable to destruction; the only way to secure it was for people to risk their lives by literally standing in the gap in the wall and fighting the enemy. This is the reference behind Ezekiel’s plea, (22:30) “I sought a man to stand in the breach.” Moses stood in the gap as he “stepped between the LORD and the people” (Psalm 106:23) to save the people of Israel with his petition on their behalf.
God doesn’t want a gap within us or our walk with Him. He wants authenticity. He wants us walking stride for stride with Him, not lagging and creating a gap, and certainly not running ahead as if we should be in the lead. In the words of St Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
He seeks our gapless love. He still seeks those who will stand in the gap. I need to be gapless.