Imagine a group of people standing in front of the two photos of old windows included with this blog. There would be a variety of opinions about the colorful presentation on the glass. Some people would consider the paintings quaint, clever, beautiful, attention-grabbing, or a work of art. Other opinions may edge toward dislike.
But no matter how much you like them or dislike them—what you are looking at is a fake. The drawings are representing something that isn’t there—isn’t real. There are no curtains. There is no vase or pretty flowers.
At a glance, the paintings make the world think they are genuine and give the house that lived-in look, an indication that happy times still exist. But they don’t. The pretty, painted windows hide emptiness, disrepair, shabbiness, and promote a lie.
How does this compare to life and people? Some people are a work of art but they are empty inside. Others put up a fancy front and hide hurts. A bold outward appearance may be a cover for insecurity. A jolly laugh might screen depression. The list goes on.
It’s very difficult to learn how to discern what is really behind the established faces. But as we get to know people, we can catch a glimpse of the pain, rejection, and hurts behind the make-believe. God loves the person behind the façade. He doesn’t just look at the outward appearance. The Bible urges us to look beyond the pretense and see the real person, the troubles, and the hurt. God’s word tells us to love everyone, not jump in with rags to clean them up. We can’t assume we have the ability to scrub their grief away, attempt major changes and overhauls, or redo them to suit our standards.
Behind the fancy painted glass there may be emptiness, but you can help fill it with hope and a better life. Ask God to give you the ability to discern when a careful painting is taking the place of a real face. We can express God’s love to those around us by reaching out to them and giving of ourselves.
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~Karen Campbell Prough
Shadows are images without light. They are the outline of something, which is not quite discernible or real.
Are we shadows?
When people talk to us or connect with us through avenues in social media, are they seeing just an outline of a human being? Our images may not be bad; we might not purposely present only a silhouette.
But shadows seem to be multiplying in today’s world.
Friends may include an ever-widening circle of remote acquaintances, people who have recognizable faces, but with whom we’ll never shake hands, laugh, speak to, or hug.
What makes us genuine in today’s world and not a shadow? What makes us tangible? How do we touch others when we live hundreds of miles apart, countries apart, and will never stand side by side?
Compassion, kindness, and willingness to give of ourselves, breathes life into our shadows. We become real to people. They cannot forget a shadow that begins to glow with color. Reaching out to others, giving sound advice, talking them through rough times, and being online to comfort a hurting friend, while the rest of the world snoozes, helps us reflect God’s light. People will suddenly perceive something different about us.
Our good deeds, kind messages, or emails may not go down in the world’s “journals of renown”, but really—is that why we’re here on this earth? No. We need to brighten our shadows by privately messaging a friend instead of clicking “like”. We should be real quick to pick up the phone and put a voice to our images.
In other words—we dare not become a shadow of ourselves.
Remember what God’s word says: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.” Philippians 2:3-4 NLT
People need a human touch, a human greeting, hugs, and even the posted word “friend”. Our careful words, typed or spoken, can add light to someone’s shadow.
I need to work on this. I’m trying to notice the “shadows” walking around in the grocery store or in the local restaurant, and other places. I need to smile at them, speak to them, and joke with them.
~Karen Campbell Prough