We're talking about the things that we think matter so much about ourselves and how we're too often focused on the external - our hair, our body, our figure, our physical strength. And I think that if you've been human long enough, you've probably heard what I'm going to say next: that's not it.
You've probably also heard that your character is far more important than your pant size, that your integrity is worth more than the shape of your nose. That what is most true about you is not who you see in the mirror, but who you are in relationship to others and to yourself - it's your love, your real love, the depth of your soul, your very inmost being.
And you still probably made a resolution about how much weight you want to lose this year.
We just can't seem to get away from this stuff, can we? No matter how much someone tells us that the truth about us in our souls, we still somehow think it's in our wardrobe. We still think it's in the mirror and not in the love reflected back to us from the world. We still think it's about all of our physical realities, even as we declare that our hope is not in this life - or this body - but the next one.
I told you that this week, I'm going to prove this truth to you using the Bible and that you'll never think about this stuff the same way again. And I could have done that yesterday, but where's the fun in that? How anticlimactic to give you the good stuff on a Monday. I could give it to you today, but we're not quite there yet. First, I want to prove it to you from a human perspective.
Are you ready?
How many funerals have you been to in your life? How many obituaries have you read and how many lives have you remembered? How many friends and family have you loved and lost? Are you thinking about them now? Even just one of them, even just one that matters. Got it? Okay, here we go.
How many of those funerals or obituaries or remembrances included memories of the decease that sounded like - gosh, I am really going to miss her skinny jeans. She wore a pair of skinny jeans better than anyone I know. Or how about, did you ever realize how absolutely perfect her nose was? Did you ever pay attention to his hair line? It was perfect.
When we gather to remember those we loved and lost, we don't ever tell stories like this! We don't ever talk about the physical appearance of these persons. For good or for bad. We don't talk about pant size and perfect noses and steady hair lines and straight teeth. We don't talk about what an ugly dude John was or how Betty would scare you senseless if you accidentally saw her before you knew she was coming. We don't talk about how Jill put on 20 pounds in the last year of her life or how Evan always looked like he just rolled out of bed.
All of the silly little things that we spend so much time trying to "correct" about ourselves or to perfect, all the things we dislike about our physical nature or the things we want to invest so much of our energy in...are things the world is simply not going to remember us for. Not even those closest to us. Not even those who knew how much these things meant to us. No one is going to say, "God bless her. She died as a size 2!" and no one is going to say, "It was really important to her that you know that she died as a size 2."
No one cares.
Maybe it's time we stop caring, too.
And I don't mean that we shouldn't take pride in our appearance or that we shouldn't want to - and try to - do something about the things we don't like about ourselves. These are, as one of my friends put it, our flesh vessels, and we should absolutely do our best to feel at home in them while we're here. But we should stop thinking these things are the things. Because they're not. They never have been, and they never will be. Period.
So cut yourself some slack. Or slacks. In that bigger size. Who cares? That's never how you're going to be remembered by anyone who loves you.
(Including, by the way, God.)
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