Keeping up appearances

Tomatoes ripening

by Christine Berglund

“What will the neighbors think?” This is sometimes a valid question if we respect the people around us. This is why we take a little more care in our front yards than in the back.

This type of concern is about doing for others what we would like them to do for us, keeping a tidy and attractive street.

A couple years ago, it finally occurred to me to put my most prized horticultural specimens in the back yard, where our family and friends can fully enjoy them. Conversely, I wondered if I should put those ugly vegetables in the front yard.

This past summer we visited with a neighbor who had a lovely enclosed vegetable garden in full view of the street. Since our front yard is larger and sunnier than the back, I resolved to do the same. We scouted out a spot for our future tomato garden that would get optimum sun and would be easy to water.

As the summer developed, I observed our backyard vegetables. The summer heat and a few very hungry caterpillars caused the tomatoes and kale to look like weary skeletons in comparison to their earlier lush growth. Yet they were still producing and setting fruit. I knew the leaves could grow back after the pests departed and the hot weather cooled. I could not bring myself to do what that neighbor had to do. They sacrificed their aging plants — but I enjoyed tomatoes in November.

There could be no mercy for struggling plants in a front yard, no matter if they were still marginally useful. For this is the realm where “keeping up appearances” is not only a valid concept, but paramount.

Not so in other spheres.

This past week, a svelte young lady was taking her breakfast break at the fast-food restaurant where she works when she was approached by one of the regular customers. He had noticed two biscuit wrappers at her table, and for some reason felt compelled to tell her to watch what she eats, or she would “get fat.”

He had no way of knowing that her Swedish heritage seems to prevent obesity despite her ability to consume massive quantities of food; but that is irrelevant. It has become acceptable in our society to assign so much importance to physical characteristics that it supersedes even the most basic social graces.

Weight, among other appearance factors such as clothing or speech, is just one of many superficial traits our culture idolizes. But it has been emphasized so intensely that even some elected officials and their spouses have claimed it as their mission. Children have difficulty getting enough to eat at school cafeterias, and lunches that they bring from home are often scrutinized and judged.

While there may be an element of concern for health, there seems to be very little concern for young ladies and models who starve themselves. As long as a person exhibits an arbitrarily imagined weight and shape standard, health is not a major concern. Appearance is everything.

Advertisements featuring women are now photoshopped so drastically that there is little semblance from the original model to the final image.

When Samuel was told to go to Jesse’s house to anoint a new king, he mistakenly assumed the taller, more good-looking sons were to be chosen. God corrected Samuel. He does not see as mankind sees, but looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Isn’t it time we did the same?

My veggies will remain safely tucked away in the back yard, because they remain valuable in spite of their unkempt appearance.

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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One thought on “Keeping up appearances

  1. Oddly enough people tend to think if you’re thin you’re healthy–overweight means you’re a glutton. I have tried to explain to people that gluttony goes beyond having pie/dessert for supper. LOL An acquaintance who was a missionary in Africa told me once she was not looking forward to the compliment– “You’re looking fat today…” On the flip side: 3John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Good day, and God bless.

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