A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine trying to explain some of my quirks. You see, I’m one of those people who sometimes feels the need to clarify why I do or say certain things, and I was in one of those “clarifying” moods on that particular day. As it turns out, this friend of mine already understood what I was trying to lay out so plainly. When he let me know this, I sat back and pondered that a moment. Oh, I thought to myself. So he already understands me? Curious, I asked, “So you understand why I say and do certain things?”
“Oh, yeah,” he replied. “You are an easy book to read. At least for me.”
At first, I wasn’t sure how to take that. It was great to be understood, but at the same time I wondered, Is it a good thing to be an “easy read”? Feeling a bit self-conscious and overthinking things way too much, I asked, “In your opinion, is it a good or bad thing to be an ‘easy read’?” Trying to pretend like it was a completely light-hearted question for which I held no concern about what the answer might be, I even pasted on a laughing/crying emoji at the end. But I knew that I was anxious about what the reply would be.
Really, I was expecting him to either humor me with something amusing that didn’t necessarily answer the question, or simply tell me which he thought; so I was surprised by his answer. “I don’t think it really matters,” he said. “It matters about the quality of what you’re reading, not the difficulty.” The depth of his insight shocked me. Not because I find him incapable of such depth, but because the truth of the statement was undeniable!
Keep in mind that we were not talking about literal books, like one might pick up in their spare time; we were discussing people. I assume that there are many, many people out there who would have had the same negative thoughts as me; the thoughts that say if you are predictable and “easy to read”, you’re boring and not worth anyone’s time. It’s like we all want to be a captivating mystery novel that keeps the reader guessing in every chapter. But the question is, what does it matter how enigmatically alluring the book is if it has no value, no meaning? If you can’t take something away when you’ve finished, what’s the point??
I think we as humans spend too much time worrying about how to be interesting and exciting to society because we don’t want to become outcasts. We find little pieces of ourselves that seem uninteresting and we tuck those away, replacing them with what we think will make us attractive in the eyes of someone else. But when you do that often enough, what do you end up with? A barren peach tree bearing glued-on oranges. To further explain that, it’s like if someone had a peach tree but wanted an orange tree. Every time the tree brought forth a peach, that person would remove the immature peach and glue on an orange in its place. For a little while, it might look somewhat believable, but after a time, the oranges would begin to rot because they had no true source of sustenance. Jesus says in John 15:4, 5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Without having actually grown from the tree, the oranges will wither and die. “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.” (Luke 6:45).
So what exactly am I saying? Am I judging everyone who tries to put on a mask to hide the true identity they fear will cause them to be shunned? Absolutely not! I know that I struggle with the same fears and anxieties. But we need not worry. God made each of us to be different, and He equips us with the gifts and talents He knows we can use to glorify Him. And on the days when we feel like we just don’t fit in, or we’re not smart enough, or not attractive enough, or simply not enough of anything to ever be anything important, we can remember 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Jesus Christ is enough; and when we place our trust in Him, having faith that His blood sanctifies us, His death redeems us, and His resurrection defeats fleshly mortality, we are enough through Him. Jesus clothes us in His own righteousness and we are enough.
The last thing I want to leave you with is the following: when it seems like the eyes of the world are watching you and you feel the pressure to put on some great, memorable act, remember that quality is what matters. It matters about what you do with what you have, not what you could do with what you don’t. It matters about who you are, not what you are. And finally, God says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “…Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” That, my friends, is what matters most.