I spent the fall of my junior year of college at Regent’s College in London, visiting museums, “hearing” plays (as any good Renaissance playgoer would have put it), walking alone to the college library (most of my fellow students didn’t make it past the pub conveniently located along the way), ogling the Gutenburg Bible and Shakespeare’s First Folio at the British Museum.
And, of course, riding on the Underground.
As any visitor to London knows, whenever you board the trains, a soothing yet authoritative voice intones, “Careful of the doors, please. Mind the gap.”
“Mind the gap” is a phrase with applications beyond the opening between the platform and the train. We would all be wise to mind the gaps.
I recently read an article in Time magazine about the “values gap.” The values gap is, simply put, the discrepancy between what we say we believe, and how we actually live.
I say I want to be healthy, but when left alone with a pan of brownies . . . well, let’s just say I hope you didn’t want any. I claim to care about the environment, but I’m lazy about recycling. I talk about the importance of family meals around the table, but my kids can pretty easily talk me into a “carpet picnic” and an episode of Phineas and Ferb in the living room.
But the biggest gap is between what I claim to believe about God and how I actually live.
Talk about a values gap.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not doing drugs or dancing at strip clubs or embezzling funds. (Frankly, I wouldn’t have a clue how to do any of these things if I even wanted to.)
But all too often how I choose to use my time, my words, my money, and my affections does not reflect what I proclaim. Facebook beats out Bible reading. Irritability wins over patience and gentleness. Selfishness trumps compassion.
As twelve-steps group have so wisely declared, “the first step is admitting you have a problem.” I don’t believe in perfectability—Jesus was the only sinless human. I will continue to stumble.
But I want to mind the gap. I want to be aware of where my values and my actions fail to align, and then ask, “Why?” What makes the other thing—whatever it is—more attractive to me than living according to what I believe? I hope by noticing what I’m doing, and not doing, I can (through God’s help) consciously make choices to live how I believe.
What about you? Where are your gaps? Do you choose to ignore them, because it’s easier—and less uncomfortable?
The problem with ignoring gaps is that they get bigger. And eventually we just plunge right in them.
So please. Mind the gap.