Appearances are not all they are cracked up to be.
They are a major factor in every aspect of our lives.
This world seems built on appearances. Beauty is classified, clarified, defined, bottled, researched, packaged, marketed, bottled, bought and sold. Appearances are valued at every level in every realm by nearly everybody and effect outcomes on a scale far and beyond anything most of us care to think about.
Everything from how a person feels to the job they can get to if a person is qualified to do or have or be any particular thing. We value or devalue based on appearances. Many people are so caught up in the “appearance” side of things that they can not BE anything.
OK… So what do I mean? What areas am I talking about?
We are coming up on Election time. Appearances are running rampant. Opponents are attempting to make their competition appear to be the poorer choice rather than giving quantitative proof that they are the best choice based on qualifications and a history of performance. It is a game of appearances. So… I’m saying Politics is just one area. A very easy area to give as an example of appearances.
What about Church? How do “appearances” play out in churches? It really doesn’t matter what denomination or even religious faction or belief you are. All of them play on appearances. Yes… I said ALL of them. Rules are made by this or that religious leader. All of those rules are said to be “of God” and pronounced to be God’s Law(s). This could be the God of the Christians, the Jews (which supposedly is the same God), of the Islamic religion (also supposed to be the same God though named differently), or of ANY religion. Each and every one of them presents their rules for living and has their own “laws” of life.
How many times have you watched a TV Evangelist? Ever notice how sharp they look? Yes… I know it is for TV. Still, it is a show. An appearance. You can see it IN the church as much as you can on TV. Take notice next time of those ones that are looking so sharp. See if you can tell what kind of suit he is wearing, what kind of purse she is carrying, how much jewelry she is wearing and if it is or isn’t real. Sorry to say it, but, if your preacher is making six figures and promoting books in the church book store, selling tapes and videos, and coffee is sold in the front or around the building… Oh… I forgot… they only “ask for donations” don’t they? Isn’t that another way of making people feel guilty if they DON’T “give” a “donation?”
Maybe your preacher is asking you to “sow a seed” of money so that God will somehow “bless” your gift and pay you back on a pyramid scale of some sort. So… Does your God barter for money? Can he be bought? Does your God DO for you because you have PAID Him His payola? Or is it just an appearance? Is it just a way of using a guilt trip to grab your money? An appearance they are trying to make YOU do so that you will feel less guilty?
Ok… enough on that topic. And that is only ONE topic on that subject. I would have to admit that I have somewhat against churches these days. It is a personal thing. I could go on and on in many areas regarding that but that would not serve to build anything and that is not where I wanted to go with this. I recently read an article by an author friend of mine that went much deeper on this very topic and I came away with the same feeling. That it was a destructive article. That it served no building purpose. For him I felt sad. Sad that he could only tear down and could not build. But I understand. At least on that subject.
Appearances happen at the personal level as well. The products we buy on a daily basis are geared to promote appearances. It doesn’t matter if it is shampoo or cigarettes. The car you drive or the swimsuit you wear. It can be a hair style or an activity you are being coerced into being a part of. Activity you say? How can an activity be an appearance? Well… the advertisements say that if you go to this beach or this club or this show or that, that you will have much more fun and be popular with your kids or your spouse. An appearance that really doesn’t exist.
In fact… very few if any of these appearances are real. They are a facade. They are our own attempts to mask ourselves. To HIDE who we really are. Why? Because we can not face ourselves. We can not seem to allow ourselves into a vulnerable state that bares our most hidden parts. Our faults. Oh for shame that we would dare to expose ourselves in this fashion. To allow someone else the opportunity to see that we are not what we appear to be.
This is not the case for all of mankind, I know. There are those that live life openly. That hide nothing and do nothing to impress or hide what and who they are but those people are few. Very few. And I understand it to a degree.
Some of it is for our own perceived self protection. A lack of understanding of one’s self leads them into believing that they somehow prevent knowledge of themselves to others. In many cases it is true to an extent. Some people have become professional at hiding the real them. So much so that they couldn’t tell you if they were hiding themselves or not. They don’t even know themselves. They have duped themselves into believing that they really are who they present themselves to be. It is very sad.
Women are particularly subject to this from the stand point of beauty. Culture implicates that physical beauty is required for happiness. Let me tell you right now that this is a lie. A big lie. Those that focus on their physical beauty are fighting a loosing battle. One that they will constantly deny that they have already lost. You start going downhill from day one.
Shallow people look at outward appearances. It isn’t a matter of how much you weigh or the clothes you have on, the shoes you wear or the way you wear your hair. None of this determines who you are. None of this really tells what the real you is all about.
I’ve met both men and women that appeared to be pleasant on the outside but were rotten to the core. I’ve met others that appeared to some to be somewhat scary on the outside but had hearts of gold. I’ve met men that wore suits that could sell you on nearly anything (happens all the time) and yet they have no care for anyone but themselves. I’ve met other men that looked as if they had had a fight with a mud laden bull but would give you the shirt off their back if they thought you the least bit in need. I’ve met women that could walk across a floor and men would drool just at a chance to be with them and yet they only wanted what they could get for themselves and had no care for anyone BUT themselves. Then there were those other women that may have less but would work their fingers to the bone to take care of someone they barely know.
Having money does not guarantee that a person is worthy of having money. In most cases, those that have more give less. They hoard it to themselves and protect it with all they can muster. This again is not always true. There are those that have and give. I respect that.
I can see by the sheer length of this piece that this could be a book in and of itself. Let’s end it here for now but…
For a synopsis, it is not how you look that determines sadness, happiness, contentment, who or what you are, peace, joy, your place in life, your value, or anything else about your true self. That is within you. It WILL, however, shine in your eyes and on your face. Maybe not in a way that others can pick up on what it is and tell you, but, they will certainly be able to tell or at least can sense who and what you are by the light that shines from within you or the lack of same.
Live life freely and abundantly. Let the light within you shine. Don’t try to mask it. Be who you are. You will find a certain release, a certain joy, a certain pleasure in NOT putting on an appearance.