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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

From ‘Street Angel, House Devil’ to Integrity

“Why would a person act like an ‘angel’ in public and a ‘devil’ in the privacy of his home?”
― Hugh R. Leavell
Some lead a double life,
And that’s how it can be,
Only those in the home,
Are able to fully see!
THERE was a time in my life when I led a double life. I drank on weekends to relieve the stresses of the working and family life, all-the-while presenting as a clean-and-crisp occupational safety and health manager who breathalysed fuel truck-tanker drivers on Monday mornings. I felt like a hypocrite and it was soul-destroying. It ate me up fast – but that life was ten years in the making. (My most recent ten years have been entirely different.)
Something disastrous happened, those ten years ago, that pulled me up in my tracks. Suddenly I was revealed for who I actually was; not the ultraclean citizen, but a broken man with a mask on. I never hit my wife or was abusive, but there was a public life and a private life – and never the twain did meet... until that day when one life ended and a new life started.
My then wife found love (or should I say, attention that I was not giving her) in the arms of another man, and in fighting for her I found myself stripped bare and owning all my sin. It was a humbling if not humiliating reality. But the bigger reality was serene. Throwing the door open and allowing the world in was the experience of the Presence of God I needed, notwithstanding the reputational consequences.
In being stripped bare – and routinely, day after day, for months – I got used to living an authentic life where there was no tolerance for masks, where integrity was becoming my actual byword.
So I can speak on the subject with some credibility. I have lived both lives: the double life and the integral life. There is no comparison regarding hellishness and joy. The double life seems like an absolute party, but where there is a conscience the soul is eroded day by day, not to mention those who love you and their souls. But the integral life – one lived in the home as on the streets – is tranquillity of soul. What a blessing it is to be able to look ourselves in the eye before a mirror.
Others and Their Situations
You may have dealt with abuse or neglect in the home by a ‘model husband’ so far as his street reputation was concerned. You may be that husband – and you may be trying so hard to get your life together. (I knew I was.) You might be aware of someone’s situation that is secret in the dark and pretty in the light.
The only hope for such situations is for them to be revealed in all truth.
This is not only about justice for the abused and/or neglected; it’s also about fresh hope and the smashing of fear structures (for all concerned).
Have a hope that with integrity comes freedom, no matter how difficult that journey is to retrieve such integrity.
Integrity is the only free life, so we need to deal with the double life. We need to work past the shame and guilt and learn to honour God in the centrality of one self, not split between private and public selves.
There is a form of hell many wear: a private self and a public self. Hiding takes a lot of energy and one day the person hiding will be found out. It’s best to tell on the sin before it tells on us.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.


  1. this is FANTASTIC! I was engaged to a street angel house devil. He has successfully hidden his charade all his life and continues to prey.

  2. i was engaged to this exact kind of person, "highly regarded" in his small community as so self-less but a tyrant at home; cruel and abusive in "private"


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