Not Everything Is as It Appears
Not everything is as it appears.
Have you ever had those moments in life where you had this real enjoyable time until afterwards when you saw the photo or video taken of yourself? An entire moment can be trashed by just one picture. When the shock of what you actually look like as opposed to what you think you look like hits you right between the eyes. Well count me in cause I’ve been there. It’s sort of like years ago when I thought it would be good to dissect my own messages I preached by listening to them on CD. Big mistake! To me I sounded like something between Peewee Herman and a teenage kid who just sucked back half a tank of helium. It wasn’t good. At the time I was actually selling them to people in the church which made me wonder who would spend money on this and at what point would be people start demanding a refund? It was the first time and the last time I listened to myself. Like the shock of a photo, what I thought I sounded like and what I really sounded like were worlds apart. Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s tough when everything is not as it appears.
The other day my workplace was offering to put some money in our personal Health Savings Account if we would participate in their Biometrics exam. They promised the exam would be quick and told us that if we stayed with the company another year they would double our HSA deposit if we proved healthier the following year. So like any good German who is offered free money, I took them up on the deal. They sent me to a room set up as a makeshift nurses station. With a quick finger prick and few measurements I was sat down by the health nurse to go over her findings. Long story short, I checked out fine with the exception of my weight. At this point in my story let me just say that I know I’ve gained a few pounds in the last couple of years. I’ve also encountered a strange phenomena with all of my pants shrinking around the waist. However I can say I’m aware of it and that I own it. But what took me off guard was the fact that this nurse automatically assumed that I lived a very sedentary lifestyle, and she even said as much. I let her finish and then I looked at her puzzled. I asked her if she realized that my job was direct sales, which involved me walking no less than a minimum of 4 hours every day. To my surprise, she in turn looked at me puzzled. Not the kind of puzzled whereby she was stumped by my incredible response but more of a look like it was for the guy I golfed with once who had said of my swing, “That’s aerodynamically impossible!” My nurse didn’t believe a word I said. What she said next would echo in my head for the next week.
“Well Mr. Klassen, I’m going to have to mark you as obese since you are 30lbs over the recommended height/weight ratio for your age.”
“Huh? Obese? Me? Really?”
And from that moment on the rest of my little meeting with her was all about devising an action plan to conform my body into the recommended adult-sized toothpick. But at that point it was too late. I tuned her out. I wasn’t looking for an answer. I was already sliding down the slippery slope of denial. There’s no way I was obese. For goodness sake, I wear a Fitbit everyday! That has to count for something. I’m the guy who with his wife hiked to the top of Diamond Head mountain in Waikiki. I’m the guy who survived the 11 miles trek across lava rocks. Not only that, I can still fit between my arms! But no matter how many good excuses I created in my head, the damage was done. I was officially considered by the American Medical Association as huge. As the nurse began to discuss ways I could increase my daily cardio I was thinking of ways to call her out for mercilessly ‘body-shaming’ me. Who was this lady anyways? This nurse didn’t know my life. She probably thought us sales guys ate hotdogs and donuts all day. The nerve! Who did she think she was? And I suppose SHE did cardio every day? As I continued to spiral downward I came up with some of the greatest “Yo mama’s so fat” jokes in my head that I could have won an award. As my mind cycled through denial, retaliation and misplaced humor, the reality of what she said was bearing down. It was like seeing a snapshot photo of what I really looked like. Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s tough when everything is not as it appears.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
How we see is everything. How we see shapes how we act and how we act molds our habits, both good and bad. For instance, if we see ourselves as victims, we see ourselves as having been mistreated. Inevitably we end up acting that way. When Paul wrote this letter, Rome was ramping up the level of persecution against all Christians. Christians were being tortured, burned, torn in two or publicly ruined in their community. It was becoming known that by saying yes to Christ you were saying goodbye to your life and family. This mental warfare began to weigh heavy on believers. Nobody wanted to lose their loved ones. In order to help these precious people to not give up, Paul knew they desperately needed an adjustment in how they saw. Instead of sympathy, he offered them a directive by having them change the way they see. How? He told them to ‘fix’ their eyes on the very thing they didn’t see. For the very thing they didn’t see was more real than their inevitable death.
Powerful isn’t it? History proves that Paul’s directive worked. The church outlived their persecutors. Regardless of everything surrounding us, it’s possible to be independent from the pressures of life by fixing our eyes or ‘aiming’ our sights on something better. It’s not aiming at just anything, but rather something better. Something that is concrete. Something principled. Like aiming at eternal truths which hold eternal value. Like aiming towards the truth that in God’s eyes there’s more to us than what man has ever said about us. It’s aiming at seeing God as the One who cares more about our future than about our past. It’s aiming at the unseen in order to achieve its reality. It’s seeing ourselves from the perspective of our Creator. It shapes how we act and creates habits that lead to our success. No matter how much is dying around you.
Instead of letting the title ‘obese’ determine how my day turned out, I chose to adjust my perspective. I could make some healthy lifestyle changes. After my breakfast at Starbucks of course.