I realized this as I was looking over those concerns they wrote down. Right after “fitting in” came “appearances.” It wasn’t as overwhelming as “fitting in” but it was pervasive. For the teens, this concern over appearances runs the gamut––from getting rid of pimples, straightening one’s teeth, and owning the right brand name clothing to having the right body build all the way to securing a convincing smile on one’s face to hide the deep depression within.
As adults not much has changed, only we have moved on to owning the right car, living in the better neighborhood, and making sure we look like we have it all together when we are as vulnerable as a sixteen-year-old. And we too want to have that convincing smile when we are facing that same darkness.
I am not sure why we are so concerned that our appearances mask our flaws or insecurities, or did I just answer my own question? But a change in appearance doesn’t change what is within.
In the eighth grade I went out for track. I was running in tennis shoes and was miles behind the others as my shoes would slip and slide in the dirt. I convinced my dad I needed track shoes. He bought them for me and so in the next race, I looked like everyone else in my brand new track shoes. The gun sounded, and I took off; the race ended, and I was dead last. The appearance of being a track athlete did nothing to change the reality that I wasn’t.
Appearances are deceiving and transient, and God has told us in so many ways that 1) He is sufficient for us in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), and 2) what we see and value today is but for a moment; it is the eternal and imperishable that we should keep our eyes on (2 Cor. 4:18).