IVP - Strangely Dim - Duplicity, Schmuplicity

November 12, 2009

Duplicity, Schmuplicity

By Lisa Rieck

Okay all you rhyming buffs. Here's a word for your next limerick: duplicitous. That's what I've been thinking about lately, thanks to Mindy Caliguire's Soul Care guide titled Simplicity. Her extraordinarily helpful take doesn't pit simplicity against complexity but rather simplicity versus duplicity.

Simplicity, Caligure explains, is marked by a singular pursuit of Christ and his call on our life. And she insightfully points out that a singular pursuit of Christ may very well make our lives more complicated--not simpler. Take Noah, for one. There he is, quietly living his life, minding his own business, following God faithfully, when God comes to him and essentially says, "I'm going to destroy the earth, but I'll save you and your family. Here's the plan: build an ark in this desert big enough to hold you, your family and two of every living creature on the earth." And just like that, Noah's life got a whole lot more complex.

Living duplicitously, on the other hand, is being distracted by many pursuits: "The sin that so easily entangles," for one. Trying to impress others by dressing a certain way or decorating your house a certain way or driving a certain kind of car. Spending all your time working to "prove" your usefulness. There are, unfortunately, myriad ways to be duplicitous.

I'm noticing many in myself. Did I say that because I mean it or because I want that person to think of me in a certain kind of way? I wonder. Do I really like to run? I ask myself as I lace up my running shoes, or do I just want people to think of me as a dedicated athlete? And the classic, Friends are coming over so I better hide the stacks of mail and dust so that they think I'm the kind of person who always keeps things clean, even though no one can possibly keep up with the mail and dust unless they have no life besides cleaning.

The comparison game only makes it worse: Okay, God, I see you leading so-and-so into really meaningful ministry. That's great. I'm happy for her. Thrilled. But do you think you could do the same for me? Now? Before others start to whisper about whether or not I have any spiritual gifts at all? . . . And on and on it goes. It can be hard to discern when I'm being simplistic or duplicitous. Often it comes down to motive. As Chris Heuertz writes in Simple Spirituality, "Simplicity is best understood in evaluating how we hold things, not just what we do or don't hold."

I love the idea of simplicity; I deeply want my life to be a singular pursuit of God. I'm learning to make it more so. But--I'll be perfectly simple here--I have a long way to go. However, another book, Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner, is helping me learn the way. In a chapter on hospitality she talks about not just inviting people into our homes but inviting them into our lives, just as they are. "At its core," she writes, "cultivating an intimacy in which people can know and be known requires being honest [or simple, if you will]--practicing that other Christian discipline of telling the truth about where we live and how we got there." She continues with (duplicitous) sentiments that I can definitely relate to: "Often, just as I'd rather welcome guests into a cozy and cute apartment worthy of Southern Living, I'd rather show them a Lauren who is perfect and put-together and serene."

On many days, I strive to show people that put-together, serene, perfect Lisa. But in some moments, when I slow down enough to listen to the Spirit, I'm willing to let people in: to show them the simple truth--the mess, the struggles, the faults. And usually, I experience God's grace through those people as a result of letting the duplicity go.

A few more words from Lauren: "Like my apartment, my interior life is never going to be wholly respectable, cleaned up, and gleaming. But that is where I live." And that's where I live too. Where I'm trying to accept that I live, and trying to let others see that that's where I live. It isn't easy. It makes things messier. But mess, I'm learning, is where God lives too, the place where often we can most sense him near. So it's good, and hard. And simple, huh?
Posted by Lisa Rieck at November 12, 2009 8:12 AM Bookmark and Share


Pardon me if I'm duplicitous,
but I stress out when you throw all this at us.
What am I to do
When a spin job or two
is exposed as just simply solicitous?

I love a challenge. Great post, btw.

Comment by: dave at November 13, 2009 9:30 AM

I'm finding my thinking precipitous
while chewing your take on "duplicitous."
But given my angst,
I offer you thanks--
your timing is clearly felicitous!

Comment by: dave at November 13, 2009 11:38 AM

There once was a writer named Lisa Rieck
Whose blog posts were all Strangely Dimmer-ic. 
She aimed for simplicity,
Eschewing duplicity,
And that's worth another odd limerick.

Comment by: Mark Eddy Smith at November 14, 2009 5:54 PM

I'm wondering if you can miss a bus
from pondering rhymes with "duplicitous"
Mark and Dave likely could,
though their rhymes are quite good--
Are limericks worth this much fuss?

Somebody stop us, please.

Comment by: Lisa at November 16, 2009 7:34 AM

good article as usual!

Comment by: forex robot at November 19, 2009 1:43 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.

Get Email Updates

You'll get an email whenever a new entry is posted to Strangely Dim

Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

Subscribe to Feeds