4 Thoughts For Finding the Gold in People

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{Guest post by Jeanne Takenaka. Original post appeared at bit.ly/findingthegold.}

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?

A note from Ness: Jeanne Takenaka writes beautifully about real-life issues, and has a heart to draw women closer to God and to those around them. Please check out her work at http://www.jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com.

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