…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:7
As an Evangelical pastor I often reminded people that, yes God looks on our heart, but human beings judge us by how we look. The proof that someone is a follower of Jesus is not what is in their heart or what they believe. The proof is in their conduct. James was clear on this matter….faith without works is dead. According to James’ works gospel a Christian shows their faith by their works. No works? No faith.
Many of the Christian zealots who come to this blog to set me straight prove they are not Christians at all. Their conduct reveals the reality of their heart. They are often hateful, mean-spirited, vengeful, and nasty. In their world the only thing that matters is right-belief. As long as they have right-belief, conduct does not matter. Lost to them is that right-beliefs should yield right conduct.
I also know that perception is reality and it is easy for us to put up a façade to make people think we are this or that. Millions of Christians are Christians 2 hours a week. They put up a façade on Sunday and take it down the rest of the week. They are Christian in name only. (and we see this in all religions and social, cultural, political, and economic beliefs)
As a person with a debilitating illness, I am acutely aware of the “man looks on the outward appearance.” It is quite amusing how differently people treat me when I am in a wheelchair. The wheelchair becomes the outward symbol of my physical brokenness and people respond appropriately.
When I am just walking with my cane, people have a different attitude toward me. I get the looks……the “what’s really wrong with you? I bet you just want a handicap parking spot” look.
Today I had a counseling appointment and on our way to Defiance we stopped at Werlor Waste Control to drop off our recycling bins. I was sitting in the passenger set of the car and Polly was unloading the bins. Our daughter with Down Syndrome was helping her. We had quite a bit of recycling so it took a few minutes.
In a car next to us a woman was glaring at me. She had a look of disgust on her face. I knew this look right away. I have seen it many times before. She was upset over me sitting in the car while Polly unloaded the recycling. I am sure she thought I was a lazy man.
I refrained from giving her a piece of my mind and quietly, in my mind, said, fuck you, lady. You see, she judged me based on outward appearances. She knew nothing about me and the physical problems I have. She knew nothing about the hellish night I had, the unbearable pain that no drug seemed to curb. All saw was me, a man, sitting in the car, while my wife and daughter did the work.
I am acutely aware of the whole perception is reality notion. On more than one occasion I have loaded heavy things into the car that I had no business loading. Polly urged me to let her do it, but I said NO! Why? Pride. There were people nearby and I didn’t want to be viewed as a weakling, a man who needs a woman to do his work for him. (and I struggle with this all the time, in public and at home)
I suspect this will be a continuing problem for me. I continue to fight my new reality and I still yearn for what once was. I am a man, and while my body is physically declining, I still think like a man. I want to be the protector, the provider. I want to be the person who takes care of things and does the heavy lifting.
I am grateful for a wife who understands this and tries to be helpful even when I tell her I don’t WANT her help!
When I came home today the RG-6 splitter I ordered for the antenna arrived. In classic Bruce Gerencser fashion I started to install the splitter. I had to lay on the ground to do this, so I put a big towel on the ground and went to work. I had to unhook 4 RG-6 connections, 2 grounds, and then reattach them to the splitter. By the time I got to connection number 2 I was out of strength and my left arm and shoulder were having spasms. I knew I never should have started this small project. I should have waited for one of my sons to help me…..but waiting has never been my strong suit.
Fortunately, Polly saw and heard what was going on and she asked if she could help. Now there is an angel I can believe in. She finished tightening the RG-6 connections and the job was finished.
We all can judge by outward appearances. Our first impression of a person is often made by how they dress, their body language, and speech. If there is one thing I have learned in life is this……..looks can be deceiving.