You’ve seen the commercials since the first of the year. They are the before and after ads where you have people who look like me before their diet and then who look like Daniel Craig after. The before pictures show people in the worst light. They show every bulge, crease, crevice and ripple. The after pictures show buff, beautiful people who are literally beaming with pride and confidence. The message is, “Image is everything.”
Now, I understand that losing weight is a good thing. I like to fit into my clothes. But, we seem to have become a nation that is so focused on looking good that we have equated personal appearance with reality. Listen, I am touched by the testimonials of those who have overcome a weight problem. But, I also get angry. We are a society that is so focused on outward appearance that we miss seeing the real person inside. We demean those who don’t fit the mold. We dismiss those who don’t match the ideal. The reason some feel so good about losing weight is that they think finally someone will notice them. Someone will take them seriously. Someone will see the person they really are inside. Someone will care.
Every day we miss seeing real people. We pass them by without much thought because, by our estimation, there is nothing to notice. We evaluate others by appearance and determine quickly their value or worth. We see nothing special, nothing unique. We may even think, “Too bad. So sad.” We walk on by and miss an opportunity for fulfillment – ours and theirs.
I was reading an article recently about how much we need each other. The author put it this way, “Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. For some, there are more pieces. For others, the puzzle is more difficult to assemble. But know this: you do not have within yourself all the pieces to your puzzle. Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces to someone else’s puzzle. Sometimes they know it; sometimes they don’t. And when you present your piece, which is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not, you are a messenger of the Most High.”
His comments struck me as true. Despite our feelings of self-sufficiency there is a part of us that seems to be missing. God created us as dependent creatures. We are dependent on Him and we are dependent on each other. The problem is that we don’t know ahead of time who has our puzzle pieces. If we did then we could focus our lives on those we feel can help us be all we can be and dismiss the rest. But that’s not the way it works. Every human being has the potential for some piece of insight or the promise of some piece of fulfillment. Too many times we are willing to walk by those we deem as unimportant or insignificant. Somehow, in our estimation, they are not pretty enough, smart enough, influential enough, or connected enough to really matter in our lives. As a result, we miss getting the pieces that would help us gain a better perspective on life. We miss giving the pieces that could help make someone else’s life better.
Notice – it’s not just about getting the pieces of the puzzle you need – it’s about giving as well. We need to open our eyes to see that there are no unimportant people. There are no insignificant people. Each person is of unique worth. They are all a part of God’s great puzzle.