Beneath the surface


Today as I looked out over the black, murky waters in the swamp at Jean Lafitte National Preserve, I thought about how you have no idea what is under the surface.  In the picture above, the gator popped up and started swimming toward us.  One minute the water was calm and the next, he surfaced and caused a wake, the black water rippling out around him as he swam right toward us.

My husband and I are both Florida natives and are no strangers to alligators and their habits.  We aren’t afraid of them as some people are, but we respect them.  However, as my husband knows, I’ve never been a fan of swimming in the swamp like a lot of people do on occasion.  This is definitely because I am not privy to what is below the surface.  In my most likely, overactive imagination, I envision not only gators, but snakes; and not just a snake, but nests of them and all manner of slimy creeping things and flesh eating parasites.  This is in all probability not the case, but until I know that for a fact, my body will stay above, thank you very much!

The water makes me think of people and personalities and how unless we know them extremely well (and sometimes even when we do), we don’t always know what is beneath the surface.   We don’t know of the private struggles, the personal failures, the pain kept inside.

We are only able to observe and glean from that which surfaces.    It’s only then that we see the emotion, thoughts and actions they allow to break through the outer wall and be felt and heard and viewed.  For many people, more walls go up with every infraction felt against them, so what we see may be very carefully wrapped up and concealed.

Knowing this, I often wonder why we aren’t all more patient with people.  We generally judge from first glance, make our minds up after a first encounter.  Have we even unveiled the first layer at this point?   I know I am thankful for the friends and loved ones in my life who took the time to search me out, to find the gems and ignore the ugliness.  It reminds me of how our heavenly Father takes the time to search our hearts; He doesn’t look on the outside, but at our heart.  Of course, we don’t have the privilege to look there with omnipotent, all-seeing eyes, but we can take the time to at least search it out to the best of our limited human ability.

I know I’ve touched on this before here, but it bears repeating.  Why don’t we try to take more time with people, to show love and kindness, offer consolation and prayer and who knows, we might unwrap something of vast beauty!

Mitch Teemley

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