Charles Cook was anxious and restless. He found it hard to concentrate. When he sat down, he could never relax, so he got up frequently to pace the floor, to get a drink of water, to check the time or to look out the window. Cordial and friendly, Charles was the type of person who made you feel that, in him, you really had someone who cared about you and your problems.
“Give me a call–anytime,” he would say cheerfully to everyone visiting his office. Or, “You’ve got to come over to the house and tell me more about it.”
Some people took him up on his offers of hospitality. And there was the rub! His friendliness was an act. He didn’t really mean for business associates to call him–let alone drop in at his home. He was just making conversation.
Whenever trapped, he always had a way of getting out.
“I’d be glad to stop by some night,” a client would say in response to his invitation. “How about Thursday?”
“Sounds fine. But let me check with my wife’s plans and call you,” Charles would say. Not for a minute did he intend to have this guy taking up his evening.
The next day he would telephone the client to apologize. “Sorry, but my wife’s got me tied up with the PTA Thursday night. Let me contact you later.”
Why did he invite people to call or visit him? It was the polite thing to do. Why did he then lie to the one he had invited? He did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
But occasionally, Charles Cook could not get out of his self-made trap. He would have to play the role of genial host to people he did not like. His acting was superb. But what a distasteful way of life! Is there any wonder that he was an anxious, uneasy man? “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17).
Charles Cook imagined himself a cordial and polite individual because he sounded like one. But by his rationalization, he was covering up a basic dislike of people and had fooled even himself into thinking he was a congenial man.
He needed to face the fact that his geniality was only a front. But to deceive even himself was easier than squaring up with the truth. Yet he could not get away with his duplicity. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
Charles had to make up his mind what he wanted in life–whether to be around people or not. If he wanted to accept others, he would need a change of heart. Whatever his decision, if he was to be free of his anxiety, his behavior had to be changed to match the desire of his heart.
This story is taken from Dr. Brandt’s book, “The Struggle for Inner Peace.” The names and certain details in this true case history have been changed to protect each person’s identity and privacy.