Look Beneath the Surface

sissy goodwinThe LA Times ran two stories side-by-side that spun my head around. Because the way people would see the men in each story is completely different from the way God would see them.

The first was about “Sissy” Goodwin, a big guy in Wyoming–the cowboy state–who likes to wear pink dresses with bows in his hair. Locals mostly ridicule him and the Times, of course, supports his “gender independence.”

But the Times noted one crucial point that subsequently they, and everyone, seem to overlook. When he was a kid his mother was drunk all the time, and his stepfather abused him. Secretly dressing up in girls’ clothing was what he calls, “a safety valve, an escape from a hostile environment.” His coping mechanism of escaping a hellish life was to escape into a fantasy world. And in time the habit became his identity. This guy doesn’t need ridicule, and he doesn’t need gender independence. He needs ministry, healing for his heart, a renewed identity the way so many people do.

ross ulbrichtThe other guy, Ross Williams Ulbricht, looks like a fine young man, full of life, ambition, and good intentions–at least according to his LinkedIn profile and photo. He’s the kind of guy anyone would like to be friends with. On the false surface. He was recently arrested by the Feds for creating and operating the world’s most pervasive and notorious website for trafficking heroin, ecstasy, addictive prescription medicines, firearms, ammunition, and computer hacking services–with an estimated $1.2 billion in sales over the last three years. He’s allegedly hired hit men twice to take out people who did him wrong.

What you see is not always what you get. Far from it.

When a father in the Old Testament was parading his fine sons before the prophet Samuel to see who would be chosen as king, Samuel thought surely one of these studly guys would be the one. But then he got this message: “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 16:7).

I challenge you to spend a day–or even ten minutes around people–and consciously look past the surface to what might lie beneath. How much would it change you if you began seeing people deeper than how they appear?

top photo credit:  LA Times
bottom photo credit:  LinkedIn