I have recently purchased a cheap car. It only cost $1000 and I am sure I will get my moneys worth out of it. It has quite a neat exterior with a reasonable paint job, no rust and no dents. When I drove into the yard at the fire station there were quite a few firefighters standing around. As I got out of the car they passed comments about my new transport. "Who is that? Is that Father Ted? It can't be, it's a tidy looking car?" "Have you borrowed that from someone?" "That's too neat a car for you to drive?" ... so the cheeky comments went. My cars have most often had a dent or two, they have had patches of rust and the paint job has been old and worn.
The thing is that I know that the motor in this car is tired. If I was to do a long trip I would still take my old, beat up looking Nissan. This car's motor is OK for running around town. But of all my cars in recent times, I think this motor might be the most worn. But because it looks neat, they think it must be more expensive, more reliable and a better vehicle. Give me Wanda my old Nissan Bluebird to drive, any day though her paint is flat and oxidized and there are damaged body parts.
As I drove out of the yard I could not help thinking that we are like that with people. We judge by the exterior looks. I have lived long enough to know that "Dress does not make the man." Some of the sleaziest, biggest bullies, least trustworthy guys I know wear fancy suits and always look neat. Some of the most straight up guys I know wear old jeans. Some of the aesthetically ugly people I know turn out to be the most understanding, generous and genuine people. I know some "beautiful" people who are also beautiful inside, but I know lots of "beautiful" people I certainly would not trust as far as I could throw them. I know a guy in Australia. His house looks a dump. It is messy inside and out. He dresses in untidy looking gear. He is unkempt, hair never tidy, he speaks roughly and his straight up abrupt manner can put you off. He is self employed which is good because if he turned up to be interviewed for a job I am sure his immediate looks would put a boss off. But he is a successful businessman and I have seldom met a kinder, more genuine and more generous guy. You just cannot tell a book by its cover. I once saw a boss looking through something like 2 - 300 applications for a receptionists job. They had sent photos as part of the application and he was rushing through them looking at their photos, chucking the ones he judged were no good. I was astounded, but he said, "How else am I expected to get through so many and sort out a short list to read in depth?" To be fair he was not just picking the sexy looking ones. He was looking for a pleasant looking disposition in the picture. The lady he finally selected is no beauty queen but delightful in the role. But, I thought, others could have been brilliant too but lost out because of a "bad hair day" or bad lighting when the photo was taken or a split second change of their facial features. My point is, with cars and people, do not jump to conclusions from first appearances.
An athletic goal?
I realise that I am getting reasonably fit and mentioned this last blog. Each week I am improving in my running and, apart from the usual soreness that comes from working muscles beyond their comfort zone, I have (touch wood) been injury free. I suddenly twigged tonight that the NZ Masters Games is being held in Wanganui on February 4th - 13th. The half-marathon is to be on the 13th. We intend to be in the North Island then, a son has bought us air tickets to be there. Maybe I could aim to do the half-marathon? Watch this space!
Too late mate...
Another thing that I stewed on today. In my job as a chaplain and community minded minister I often get drawn into supporting people either in workplaces or family life, where relationships have become dysfunctional. Most often as I get involved (though thankfully I get to refer most) I get to thinking - "this is too late". They should have been dealing with this years ago! Why didn't they go see a counsellor or at least talk through these issues when they first began? Sometimes we just bury our heads and hope the problem will go away. It takes courage to stop and deal to it. I know I have done that in Churches and in other organisations and relationships I have been in. So to younger people, I encourage you to deal with issues when they are mole hills. When they become mountains, it is often too late mate. The damage has been too great.