Last week as I walked the old streets of Warsaw, I tried not to gape at the sharp, intelligent-looking people who strode past me. I felt like a country mouse, agog at the stylish, cultured clothes, the confident walking through gateways, the luxuriant lingering at lunch. Understated. Classy. Artsy. There were all kinds, and I loved watching them.
I caught myself thinking, “Wow, what cultured, classy people live in Warsaw.”
Later, I wondered if that was a fair assessment. I’m thinking out-loud here, and maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s not fair or right to judge what a person’s personality is, who they really are, by how they dress. The classy, got-it-together appearance can hide a falling-apart soul. Just as an out-of-fashion, homely appearance can veil a sparkling, keen heart and unsung talents.
I maintain that clothes reveal a person’s priorities, and not who they really are. Ok, admittedly, some of this is about me, because I don’t want people to judge me according to what I wear. I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about how I look, and a photo session can put me in a funk for awhile. Like most women, the times I believe I’m beautiful are rare and fleeting.
I have often seen people look askance at my veil and dress, and on good days, it makes me pity them because they don’t know what I nice friend I could be to them. =) On bad days, their disapproval makes me want to hide. But generally, I don’t mind, because my priorities are serving my God by following His standards and wanting His approval for my decisions, plus I sort of like doing things that make people ask questions.
We are human, and we only see the outside, so that is what we quickly assess and judge. But maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should keep asking for Jesus’ eyes to see people as they are, to see their hearts. I think it is usually possible to see a person’s heart by what they reveal in their eyes . It takes time and gentleness and care. And if we don’t have the luxury of spending time with a stranger, we should at least give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe that, no matter how they appear, they are, in C.S. Lewis’ words, “never ordinary: you have never talked to a mere mortal.”
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. –Lewis