Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

I don't know about you, but back in the day, I loved comic books (Archie...and Richie Rich...go figure). Why this was, I do not know...but I also enjoyed the ads that were in them. Ads for sea monkeys, and X-ray glasses, and other extremely cool items. I don't know which adult - although it was probably ALL of them - poured me the bitter glass of reality - but I remember distinctly being told that things are not always what they seem.

Fast forward to friendships...relationships...assignments...classmates...sisters...family...children...coworkers...

If one life lesson holds true...it is that things are not always what they seem.

The bad behavior is not always stupidity or poor morals...it is sometimes a deep ache to be accepted and loved. Sometimes it is that someone in authority who should be on top of that situation...is nowhere to be found.

The family with everything...has the bills to prove it. The children are adrift, and the family is fractured emotionally and spiritually. The loneliness and the pain is covered by the facade of the "perfect marriage" and the "perfect family." Until the day when it all comes crashing down.

The shining star...has a porn addiction...or an eating disorder...or an addiction to cosmetic surgery. Looking for perfection...in all the wrong places.

The annoying neighbor...has a broken heart...and realizes that negative attention is better than no attention at all. The bitterness of being left alone in this world has taken its toll, and letting someone in as a friend or companion might mean a repeat of the heartbreak.

The friend that we vacation with, spend time with and think we know...leaves the spouse, kids, dogs, mortgage, and life behind. Nobody would understand his or her frustration...and so they go it alone. Satan whispers that the grass is greener...and so they drive over to find out.

The girl with the crown on her head...can't get a date. Everyone assumes that someone else has already asked her to go. So, she sits at home. The girls are jealous of her, and the boys are intimidated by her. The mothers make up little stories to bring her down a notch with just enough of a grain of truth to be believable...so that their little princesses shine more brightly by default.

You see...when we look at the lives of others...we only see part of the picture most of the time. We assume a lot...and we look at our own life and wonder why it seems ordinary in comparison. We somehow think that we have missed a brass ring somewhere. May even start to believe that we aren't as loved by God or as worthy of happiness. Some even become convinced that if they worked harder they could have it all...or could by sheer determination alone...will that ring to come around again. So, collectively, we prey on our health, connections, future, and family to satisfy our desires through a quest to provide something that does not satisfy us.

I have found that we have to look at the people that we come into contact with and the circumstances...at face value...at least at first.

I mean, some people really are "what you see is what you get." Not that these folks are superficial. It is just that they have simplified the common pretenses or "putting on of airs" down to...well...NONE. Some are born this way...and others have come through the fire of disease, addiction, experience, or a long life...and really don't want to waste time or energy worrying about making a false impression. Others in this category just do not see the hidden meanings...and they face life meaning what they say, and saying what they mean. These are the easiest people to "get" but sometimes the hardest ones to "take." It just depends.

But most of us are multi-layered. We are like the layers of an onion. Some people see this layer, and others see down a little further into the essence of someone. Usually, what we initially see is not what actually is. For example, what some people view as arrogance...is really insecurity. What comes across as threatening...is really someone who has so much to offer, but cannot seem to figure out how to show their heart to others.

Some of the most profound people I know are those who don't say much. I have a family member who will listen and does not speak most of the time. But when he does say something...it will either be spot on...or will make you totally crack up. Still waters often run deep.

Other times, the people who have high energy come across as pushy, demanding, or just plain annoying. These are also the fireballs who get things done in this world. Maybe not the way you would want them done...but done nonetheless. And they want so much to please, that their enthusiasm can sometimes be overwhelming.

So remember, when you hit a negative situation in your life, know that it is possibly a gift from God. He rarely acts in a way that is typical. What we see as rich, He sees as poor. What we see as common, He sees as precious. If we could be more like Him in this regard...we would all be a lot happier and more patient with each other.

People who drive you nuts may be the most memorable down the pathway of your life because of what you learned about yourself from your time with them. And when the life you have seems to have lost its lustre...it is possible that it is because you are comparing it to someone else's...someone who, I've often seen, is actually comparing their oh so glamorous life to yours...and wishing that they could trade.

Things are not always what they seem. Sometimes they are better than we imagine, and sometimes we are disappointed when someone shows us the little man behind the curtain instead of the wizard. That's life. It is also what makes it so wonderful. The little surprises, twists of fate, sweet stories, and even those dark times that balance the light. Here's to having eyes that see people, situations, and God exactly as they are...and not as they seem. Later!

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