By Graham Glover –
I am. I’m fat. Not something an officer in the United States Army typically says, I know. But the fact remains, I’m overweight. I’m a big dude, so I “hide” my fatness well, but there is no getting around it, yours truly needs to shed some pounds. Actually, I need to lose A LOT of weight.
My fatness can be deceptive. I do very well on the Army Physical Fitness Test and shock my fellow Soldiers when they see how fast I run. I’ve completed a marathon, several half-marathons, and will compete in this October’s Marine Corps Marathon. But still, I’m fat.
Were I not a chaplain, I know my chain-of-command would call out my fatness. In no way am I a picture of what an officer should look like. This is especially true in my current Battalion – an Infantry Battalion. I meet the Army standard, but only because my large neck compensates for my fat belly when I’m tapped after not making the required table weight of a male my age.
Yet very few, if any, of my family, friends, or colleagues tell me I’m fat. If I looked disheveled, they would tell me. If I was upset, they would ask what’s wrong. If I was sick, they would come visit me in the hospital. But carrying around extra weight that puts my health at risk and gives off an image that is not becoming of an officer…for this I get nothing.
Why? Because we Americans don’t like to be offensive. We don’t like to call out people for making poor lifestyle choices. “It’s their decision.” we say. “Who am I to tell them differently?” Politeness is good. Tact is important. But shying away from proclaiming the truth because it might cause offense – this is ridiculous.
Yet we modern relativists embrace this attitude. We don’t like to offend because so many of us no longer believe there is such thing as Truth. Everyone has the right to choose their own right and wrong and we should not question others choices.
Even we who profess the Christian faith do this. We do not like to call out others for their sin, even when we know such sin is contrary to the will and Word of God. We are reluctant because we are afraid others will point out our sin (and God knows we aren’t real keen on admitting our own wrongs…) or we don’t know our faith well enough to recognize sin when it’s starring us in the face. We Christians also shy from proclaiming the saving truth of the Gospel because to do so might exclude the non-believer from God’s mercy and grace. All faiths lead to the same end society tells us, so why should we worry about proselytizing the absolute truth of Christianity?
I get it, the truth is oftentimes offensive. But so what? What good comes from letting others and ourselves continue in destructive behaviors simply because we are afraid of causing offense? Again, we can speak the truth in love as we point out the errors of others and as we admit our own (Pope Francis talks a lot about this and I think every Christians should heed his advice). The point is we need to start calling a spade a spade. There is a right and a wrong. There are beneficial and destructive behaviors. There is truth and there is untruth.
So go ahead and tell me I’m fat. I am and I need to hear it. I desperately need to lose the weight, to prolong my life and to ensure promotion within my current vocation. While you’re at it, take a look in the mirror and find your own flaws. Then admit they are a problem and start working on fixing them. It’s ok if you’ve got issues. We all do. Don’t worry about offending me, you won’t. Don’t worry about offending others, they need to hear the truth. And don’t worry about others pointing out your wrongs, because that is exactly what we have been called to do. We are our brother’s keeper and part of that means telling him when he is screwing up.
Yeah, I’m fat. Now to do something about it…