Wednesday, November 3, 2010

[Scene from Friends: Central Perk, time lapse. Phoebe is now looking at the covers of two different books.]

Chandler: Are you judging them by their covers? Because you’re really not supposed to do that.

I can't tell you how many times, upon learning that I have cancer, people have said something to the effect of, "But you look so good! I never knew!" And while I appreciate the compliment and am truly grateful that I don't look like what people imagine a cancer patient should look like, it serves as a constant reminder to me that you never can tell about a person just by their outside.
For Example:

This is Eric. By looking at him you would probably never guess that he swears like a sailor when he hits his head on something or stubs his toe... but he does. He also is great with computers and cars and he has spent a bunch of his free time helping others through programs like Habitat for Humanity and the C.A.R.S. ministry. And he often remembers that his wife is a sucker for dark chocolate and buys it for her without being asked.

These two jokers are Ken and Jeff, my brothers. To look at Ken you might not know that he has traveled to places like Honduras and Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity, but he has. And you might not see his ingenuity, creativeness, or genuine care for others, especially his family, just by glancing at him, but it is there. And to look at Jeff you might see his humor and love of fun, and that is something that I love dearly about him. But you might not right away see his depth and strength, his thoughtfulness and intelligence, though all those things lie within Jeff as well and are part of why I love him so well.

Here is Julia, one of my sisters. To glance at her you might see the beautiful and shy mother of a sweet little girl. But there is no way to tell, just by looking at her, that she holds strong convictions and has great strength of character. She is a force to be reckoned with when she gets angry or feels strongly about something. And though she is tiny, she is one tough gal! And she is going to ROCK as a foster mom!

Take a look at Amy, my other sister. What do you see? Likely you see a beautiful young woman who can be shy and outspoken, by turns. And while that is true, what you can't see by looking at her is that she is a strong, determined, intelligent mom of three who started her own business at a young age.

And this is my cousin Aaron, actually, he's more like a brother to me. To look at him you might think, "Well there's a handsome and intelligent looking guy." And you would be right on both counts. But would you guess he's a scuba diving, Shakespeare watching, always has time to help friends and family, deep thinking, fun loving, great chef kind of guy? Well, he is!

Who knew just by looking at them? And that is just character stuff, that doesn't speak at all to what troubles each may have weathered or what burdens they might be carrying. You never can tell. So many people that I meet everyday never have a clue about the quiet battle I am waging with cancer, and that's okay. I am sure that there are similar difficulties or burdens in the lives of people I encounter everyday that I am ignorant of. And that's okay too. It's enough for me to be who I am, know what I know. And the phrase, "But you look so good, I never would have guessed." has become a call to compassion and patience, and a reminder that others are carrying unseen burdens AND unseen treasures too.

And even on the rainiest day, when it seems that all people see are our outsides, there are little reminders that we, also, are called to compassionately look beyond the obvious and see others for who they truly are, scars, flaws, beauty, and all! And there is the hope that others will follow our lead in "looking beyond the cover" and that could lead to far fewer rainy days indeed!