Thursday, March 07, 2013

Appearances can be Deceiving

Yes, this is the laundry pile, affectionately known as Mt. Foldmore.

My life is not picture-perfect; far from it, actually. Every day, in my home, you can find things in places where they do not belong. You can see evidence of poor choices. I make mistakes; I say, do, and think the wrong things. I don't look beautiful, I'm not skinny, I don't manage my time right, and my house isn't perfectly decorated.

It is easy to compare myself with others and feel like I don't measure up. Honestly, I do it all the time. I believe the lies that everyone else's house is cleaner than mine, that everyone else's kids are smarter and better behaved, that everyone cooks better than I do, that somewhere someone is doing what I'm trying to do, and they are doing it right.

This belief has been reinforced by the disapproval of others. Whether letting my kids play in the dirt or nursing a toddler in public or homeschooling or having eight kids, I have (or haven't) done what someone somewhere thinks I should (or shouldn't) do. And I make mistakes, often.

Isn't she cute, even under all that dirt?
Recently, though, God has given me opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Instead of comparing the inside of me to the outside of others, He has helped me understand how He looks at me.1 Samuel 16:7 says " looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. " (Marchauna's revised version). I have certainly experienced man looking at my outward appearance and being less than impressed. It doesn't feel good, and even though I know God loves me, I still don't like it.

It has been interesting, lately, though. People I have approved of, people others have approved of, people who look good (at least on the outside), people I have admired as having it all together, have demonstrated that they don't. In each case, specific details were different, but the end was the same; they were living in a house of cards and it fell down around them.

Far from reveling in their downfall, my heart aches as I watch them struggle with the consequences of choices nobody could see they were making. Sometimes, they didn't even realize what they were doing themselves. They had the approval of others because of their outward appearance, but God knew, and what He said is true; you really do reap what you sow.

A dear friend recently told me that I can't compare the inside of me with the outside of other people, because appearances can be deceiving. Until recently, I didn't know how true that statement was. We are quick to compare our insides with everyone else's outside, usually coming away from the experience a loser. The world definitely looks at the outward appearance, and the world can be a brutal judge of what they can see. But, the really important part of a person is his or her heart. Only God can judge that, and He doesn't get deceived by how pretty the person is on the outside. 

To many, this thought is a bit less than comforting. But, when you realize that God already knows what we look like on the inside, He knows how broken and "untogether" we really are, and He loves us anyway, that is helpful. When you realize that He not only knows how broken we are, but that He made a provision for fixing up that brokenness, life gets downright exciting!


Melynda said...

I love this Marchauna! Especially that we can't compare our "inside" with other's "outside". That is something I struggle with so often but you are right on. As a new mother of only 1 baby boy (okay, toddler, but he'll always be my baby), I find it so easy to be weighed down by what others think (or what I perceive others to think). I really appreciate reading your thoughts!

Mama Marchauna said...

Thank you, Melynda. I'm always amazed by how other people struggle with what I thought was only my problem. If it makes any difference, I think you are doing a great job!! We love you, Tim,and your precious son :)