Sunday, November 13, 2011
Robert Burns was a famous Scottish poet and one of my favorite poems of his is titled "To A Louse. On seeing one on a lady's bonnet at church." The story is that a woman who was richly dressed and "putting on airs" flounced into church and sat down where she could be seen by everybody. She was dressed to the nines, but what she didn't know was that a louse was crawling up her hat. She was unaware that everybody in the church could see the flaw in her finery. She would have been embarrassed beyond belief, but she continued acting the grand lady--even though everyone else knew that she wasn't. Then Burns says in Scottish: "O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!" or in English: "O would some Power the gift to give us, To see ourselves as others see us!" This is as true today as it was when Burns wrote it, but I think it should be more apt to lift our self-esteem than to lower it. We can't love others as we love ourselves because we just don't love ourselves. We compare ourselves to all those who have better bodies, younger bodies, more money, more power, or who do more for others or the church, but this is just wrong. We are not to compare ourselves to anyone. Jesus never said life was a competition--he said to pray for others and help others. Oh if we could just see ourselves as He sees us--not as what we are but as what we could be. To an old farmer, the rusty junk heap of a car in his barn is just that, but to an antique car restorer it is a blue ribbon winning valuable classic--it just needs the master's touch. So do we. If we would stop worrying about what we look like and where our address is and put ourselves in the Master's hands--He will make miracles with us. If you are drowning and an ugly fat man is throwing you a life preserver, you don't tell him to go find someone who looks trim and fit and then come back--you take the lifeline thrown you and are grateful. You are beautiful to God no matter how you see yourself. When I taught in the ghetto in L.A. in the early seventies, one of my African-American students wore a shirt that said, "I Am Beautiful. God Didn't Make No Junk!" Amen.