Appearances: 4 Thoughts For Finding the Gold in People

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By Jeanne Takenaka

As a girl, I found some pyrite while on a family hike. It sparkled like gold in my little-girl mind, and I was beyond excited. I showed my father, and he patiently explained that what I’d found was fool’s gold, or pyrite. Disappointed, I set it back on the ground.

Since then, I’ve wondered about pyrite. When Hubby took me away for a weekend to celebrate our anniversary, we stayed in Cripple Creek, a mining town here in Colorado (no, we didn’t drop coins in any slot machines). We spent one afternoon visiting museums. One museum showed miner’s equipment and many displays of various minerals excavated in the area. The pyrite caught my eye. But so did the gold, and this is why.

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Pyrite is shiny. It has the appearance of being valuable. Gold, in it’s raw form, runs as a small vein on common rocks. It’s not always shiny, and could be missed by an untrained eye. Yet, it holds great value. Appearances rarely tell the entire story.

How often have I been drawn to to a person or a situation because it was shiny on the outside? Maybe it was a person who seemed to have it all together. Or someone who was really good at something I couldn’t do. Or someone who was polished in how she handled situations. Maybe the person fit my personal definition of attractive. Something in the appearance looked shiny to me. I wanted it!

Or, I wanted to be like them.

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How many times do we chase after something because it is attractive to the eyes, but it has no internal value? One way people tell the difference between pyrite and gold is by drawing with it. Pyrite will leave lines of black or gray, but gold leaves lines of, well, gold. Their internal properties are intrinsically different. One is common, one is valuable.

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I’m choosing to look beyond the shiny in someone’s appearance and search for the authentic. What’s on the inside of a person—how he or she responds in tough situations, how he or she treats other people—shows if they are pyrite or gold on the inside.

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Appearances only tell us so much about a person. They tell us what that person hopes to convey to their world. It doesn’t necessarily reveal to us who they really are. Taking the time to look for the gold can be one of the best investments we make.

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Here are four things we can do to discover the gold hidden beneath the shiny:

  1. Draw others out with thoughtful questions, and hear them without formulating our response while they answer
  2. Take time to really listen to others—hearing not just their words, but their heart
  3. Grow in a relationship with them
  4. Ask God to give us eyes to see the value beyond the appearance (attractive or not) of a person

I’m training my eyes—my heart—to look beyond the shiny surface of a person to the authenticity of the gold beneath.

What about you? How do you find the gold in those around you? What helps you look beyond appearances?

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21 thoughts on “Appearances: 4 Thoughts For Finding the Gold in People

  1. Trust none, for oaths are straws,
    mens’ faiths are wafer-cakes
    and hold-fast is the only dog…

    Implicit in Shakespeare’s words is the truth that the only gold is to be found in Jesus. People WILL let you down, and anyone will sell out for the right price.

    Jesus won’t, and He proved it.

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    • Good point, Andrew. People will disappoint us at some level. Hopefully though, when the relationship is solid, we work through the disappointment and hurt when it does happen. Since God has made us to be interdependent rather than go through life solo, I think we can learn how to love through those times. Ultimately though, Jesus is the One we trust, and thank goodness He is always steadfast.

      I’m praying for you today.

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  2. Thoughtful?
    I have to be thoughtful? Ohhhh, come on, can’t we just goof around and be silly?

    But…I have discovered that how a person acts when the curtain is up and the show is on? A pure, golden heart will never send an arrow flying. Instead, even in a moment of levity, one who is kind will always jump in front of that arrow.

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    • I love this descriptor, Jennifer. You’re description certainly shows gold in a person. 🙂 We learn that by getting to know them, right? I’m so glad you added to the conversation. 🙂

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  3. I always tell myself that I need to ask more questions. I usually find myself answering questions in a conversation, and then when I’m leaving, I think back and wish I had asked this or that. We do need each other. God uses us in each others’ lives … we can be tools. Good tools.

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    • I tend to be one who forgets to ask questions until the conversation is long since over. I’m working to change that. I think showing interest in another both affirms them and encourages openness. It can give us insight into how to pray for others as well. 🙂 So glad you stopped by, Shelli!

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  4. What a great post.

    I look into people’s eyes to see beyond their outward appearance. I also pray for God to show me how to see them as He does. It’s amazing how tender my heart becomes when I pray this.

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    • Jackie, what a great practice—both looking into another’s eyes and praying that God will show you how to see those you interact with. I love that. I think I need to adopt that practice. 🙂

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  5. it seems God points me to the people who are not of worldly beauty, and so I obey-not my will. . . and He is always right. I find gifts in people that are hidden from the ignoring eye. It can be humbling, and perhaps that’s what I need too.

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    • I like that, you find gifts within people . . . we should all look for those, huh? 🙂 I find that when I get to know others, God has things to teach me in the interactions too. 🙂

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  6. This is SO good Jeanne! How gullible we can be- drawn to alluring facades with no substance. Part of growing in wisdom is falling for the pyrite, realizing the fake, and instead going after the true gold.

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    • Thanks for your kind words, Ruthie. This kind of gullibility became a lifestyle for me. I’m so glad God helps us grow in wisdom and grow in looking beyond the pyrite into the gold found in others. 🙂

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  7. Jeanne, we’ve learned so much about looking beyond the external in our ministry to men in recovery but I’m still guilty of making those snap judgements standing in line at Target or the panhandler at the intersection. Good words from you. There’s always something deeper. Always room for grace.

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    • I can imagine you have learned a lot about looking beyond the external through your ministry! That’s a blessing most of us miss out on. I’m learning it’s a constant choice to catch those judging thoughts and convert them to the reminder that God knows their story and I don’t. 🙂 I still struggle with this at times. You’re right, there’s always something deeper, and always room for grace. I love the way you put that. Thanks for stopping by, Debby!

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