Saturday, February 7, 2009

Look Below the Surface

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b

When I came around the corner and saw it, I knew it was for me. There sitting back beyond the trees, was a little yellow 1920's bungalow. I'd always wanted to live in a home like this - big windows across the front, a front porch that wrapped around the side, a stone fireplace, beautifully landscaped and best of all, it had a "For Sale by Owner" in the front yard! After calling the owner and having her tell me it had completely been renovated - new plumbing, wiring, roofing, flooring and HVAC unit - and to go take a look, I got out of my car and walked around. It had new rose bushes, azalea and hydrangea's planted and nicely mulched and inside it was beautiful with upgraded kitchen cabinets and french doors into the dining room. It didn't take me long to sign on the dotted line! Since it was a lease/purchase, an inspection wasn't needed but from the looks of things, it was great! One of the first things we noticed was the leaking refrigerator and then the washer/dryer combo that didn't work. Then there was the knock on the door from the city inspector who told us the owner didn't have a Certificate of Occupancy for me to live there and that there was no insulation in the attic. After many conversations, all of this was taken care of, but we started noticing things as we walked through the yard - glass, a toothbrush, cans, bricks and very large roots, all hidden by grass or shrubs. As we began digging deeper (literally!) we found roots that went completely around the house. Under the mulch where the new azalea's were, there was an entire roof of old shingles! What we found out was that the house had been empty for at least 5 years and very neglected. When the owner bought it to renovate, she did not go to the trouble to take all of the roots of the vine and shrubs that had grown wild, or obviously the old shingles, instead, she just planted OVER them and covered them up! To the eye, it was perfect, but as we looked deeper, there were LOTS of issues!
In our nature, we believe that as long as it looks good, then it must be good! We are so quick to judge something by the way it appears on the outside. I think no one feels this in our society more than the people who are overweight. We've all seen the shows on TV (there have been plenty!) of the skinny, pretty person who puts on the "fat" suit to see how people treat them differently. And we think to ourselves, "well, I wouldn't do that!" and while we might not be as cruel as some others, we still make our opinions based on the looks of others. We think they must be lazy or have no self-control. We judge what they have in their grocery cart or what they're eating at the restaurant. We know nothing about their life or who they are, yet we think we know what they should or should not be doing. In the process of gastric bypass surgery, the first thing that you are required to do is to go to the seminar held by the Dr.'s for information. We actually tried to bypass this process because of Jordan having so many problems with his back and we had done enough research on the computer, that we just wanted to get moving with the surgery, but they will not allow that. And I am glad they didn't - it was extremely informative. What we found was a Dr. who is passionate, not only to help these people, but to bring information into the communities. Research has now shown that 90-95% of the people who are obese, actually have an extra hormone secreted in their stomach that those who metabolize their food properly, do not have. He said you could put these two types of people in a room together for a week and feed them a liquid diet and the one who does not have the hormone will lose twice the weight of the one who does. It is definitely a genetic problem. His mission is to educate as many people as he can, even Dr's who think it's just a matter of discipline. But even knowing that, does it stop us from passing judgement? I'm pretty sure all of us have been victim to someone judging us without knowing us or the situation. And I guarantee we've all (even me!) judged someone based on how they looked or by what we saw. Why do we do it? Is it our own insecurities? Is it so we look better (in our own eyes!)? I don't have the answers. I don't know how to make people stop - or even myself for that matter, though I AM trying! Before I judge someone on how they are raising their kids or talking about people behind their backs the way they do, I want to look deeper, below the surface. How were they raised? Are they stressed due to the economy or a family issue? Do they not trust people because they've been hurt so many times? I want to go deeper in people's lives, and if that's not possible, I want to judge less and believe that there are things going on that cannot be seen by the eye. I want to see them as a person, just like I want people to see me, or Jordan.
As for the little yellow house, I LOVE it (sorry dad!). Does it have it's issues - you bet! But I'm digging deeper to get those old roots out so that the new plants I plant can put their roots down because I want to stay for a LONG time!