Deceit and Appearances

7:30 AM

I love big, loud family games. Pit. Dutch Blitz. Cranium Cadoo. Especially if it involves laughing. The latter especially lends itself to that sort of entertainment. And in one of its numerous challenge cards, a player must identify what in the world is the object in the picture. One hitch: it's a zoomed in shot that turns toothbrushes into little pinheads and pinheads into alien attack ships - like the head-scratcher above. (Tell me, truly: What do you think it is? Winner takes all!)

I can't help but think that I have taken rather the same approach to juding other people's lives. I people-watch at Wal-Mart. The rewards are diversive and diverting: Girls texting and walking around in almost nothing. Grandmothers looking anything by grandmotherly. Gangster-type guys who lost their belts. Then I smugly think how nice and collected I am in my skirts and blouses, happy with my baby brother, electronically free and zipping along at a nice pace, holy, pious and so very Christian.

People with convictions have a very strange tendency to slap their convictions on to other people for no other reason than "that's what I do" - never mind that circumstances and convictions have shaped other people in different ways. Am I saying convictions are bad? That all things are relative? That we should walk around with our pants hanging low? No. I mean to say that sketching the WANTED profile of another person based on one glimpse of their life - through manners, clothes, activities - is neither Christ-like nor accurate.

I think of all the times I could be mistaken for something I'm not. Once I went to VBS with a French manicure done to my fingernails. Now some prig could say, "Oh - typical teen, concerned with her nails and all that stuff." Or they could stop and say, "Your nails are pretty" and I could sigh and answer, "I don't go for this kind of stuff, normally. I only did it because my sisters, aunt and cousins were having a spa night."

I wear culottes instead of jeans to help out with therapeutic riding. Of course, a liberated person could pity me and think I'm trapped in tradition and am self-righteous and all that. Until I tell them that wearing skirts is not a prerequisite to salvation, that I bike in capris and that I form my own convictions, thank you.

Once I wore a shirt that was a little too tight and little too low. Change that to "more than a little." Anybody could have coughed politely behind my back and thought, "I wish girls these days would dress more modestly." I could have related to them how much I wanted to stuff the shirt deep in my closet when I got home and hide in my pillow to ward off impending fire and brimstone.

I have done stupid stuff before and I doubt not that I will do them again. I have sinned. But I am, I beg of you, neither a liberal, immodest pseudo-christian nor a conservative, brainless old-maid-in-the-making. I'm me, with my faults and my journey ahead of me.

By the way, I take full responsibility for dressing immodestly and things like that. But don't harp on it behind my back - my remorse and embarrassment typically lasts several days, at least.

I know I have done this countless times to the varieties in the Mart. That girl texting? What a waste of time. Never mind that she might dislike it, that she might be trying to get rid of someone texting to her, that she needed to text something quick and necessary to her mother. That mother snapping at her two-year-old? What a terrible woman. Mothers these days just don't appreciate their children (like I do). Let's not consider that she might be a very good mother on all other days except when the two-year-old is howling about chips throughout the shopping trip. That guy dragging his pants on the ground? Rebel. Teen. Yuck. But did I stop to consider his dad probably does the same? That he pins his manhood on how low he can go? That he never had any teaching or role model to show him that he can be just as cool and manly with a belt cinched around his waist?

Did I stop once to pray for them, that they may know Christ? That they may find more useful things to do, that they would find peace, that they would find belts? Did I consider their souls instead of their outward appearance?

Or am I so consumed with my self-righteousness that I cannot smile at them, wish them a good day and think anything but, "Thank you, Lord, for making me more righteous than that sinner over there"?

God knows the whole, inside and out. We get the very narrow, zoomed in, confusing picture. I pledge to be more understanding, lest my ignorance betray me. How about you?

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9 impressions

  1. Excellent, excellent post, young lady! Great examples and a completely clear picture of what we are ALL guilty of at one point or another. Your post really caused me to ponder how often I am guilty of looking only at that confusing picture. Thank you for clearing my vision!

  2. Hi Bailey,

    I love your blog. I just came across it yesterday, actually.

    Anyway, I love how you wrote this post. :) It's so true, how quick we can jump to judge or "discern for ourselves" what the motives are of someone. Like you stated, we could be totally wrong. Instead we should just pray for them, and quit with emediate casting of judgment. God knows what their lives are like, and he's the only one who can intervene to change.

    I'll be checking your blog often. :)

    ~ Kira

  3. A very thoughtful post. *cough* and about those French Fingernails - you could hardly even tell they were done. Seriously. Okay. Maybe just a little.

    Looking forward to all your other posts since your long (I mean short) blog break.

    Love you!


    P.s. I couldn't think of any point to argue aout or any grammar errors to make this comment interesting...

  4. And by the way - I believe the picture above is a light bulb sort of thing. But I can't be quite sure. :)

  5. Mrs. Howard, I'm glad this post made you think. It was actually my grandmamma's fault that caused me to start thinking this way - considering the bigger picture and not the narrow faults of others that everyone (read: me) likes to harp on. God bless you!

    LOVE your comment, Kira, especially this: "God knows what their lives are like, and he's the only one who can intervene to change." Looking forward to seeing more comments from you!

    Ah, fine guess, Floppeth, fine guess. And please don't get me started about French fingernails. Do you know how long it took to rub them off - ?? ((hugs))

  6. *OUCH* Why do you have to write such convicting posts girly? :D
    It's a wonderful post though, honesty, well written convicting and amusing all at the same time. (I often wonder at this strange epidemic of belt-loss.)

    And as to the picture, I have no idea, but I'll take a wild guess... it looks a bit like the light above a stove. But honestly I have no idea.


  7. "Pray that they find belts..." that's great!

    A very eloquent reminder to check our own hearts. And too, what IF the girl is texting nothing worthwhile or important? My "judging" needs to extend only to the edges of my authority. Beyond that, it's "prayer only." :)

    Found you via your great article at Raising Homemakers. I look forward to reading more!

  8. I too really enjoyed, and learned from, this post. Amazing how we 'feel free' to judge complete strangers, but look-out anyone who judges us. It is definitely something I am working on, this 'judgemental' aspect of my own self. Even if I can notice when I am doing it, so I can stop it, would be a start. :-)

  9. I try not to write them, dear Elissa, because then I feel obligated to obey my own advice. :o) ((hugs))

    Good point, EllaJac. We all feel natural shame if the person we judge turns out completely different...but we ought to feel equal shame of judging prematurely and out-of-line and then being right. Never thought of that. :o)

    I think we all struggle with this, Micha - especially those of us who aren't really inclined to mind our own business. Not that, you know, I'm ever that bad. ;o)


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