Investing in People is Worth the Return

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”  

Plato

My backyard peach tree

I sometimes think about Adam and Eve in the garden. Adam was given the task of naming all the animals. Not giving them names like Sparky or Fluffy, actually giving them their species name. I think it takes some kind of superior intellect to come up with names like aardvark and platypus. Some names might have lost something in translation.

It must have been that superior intellect that also helped Adam and Eve navigate their way through the garden. Can you imagine being the first person to eat an egg? Well I’m sure that the egg eating didn’t come until after they munched on the forbidden fruit thus getting themselves kicked out of the garden. Even so, while they were still in  the cool grasses of the garden they had to know that they could eat the outside of an apple but not the outside of an orange, that they had to peel a banana but crack open a coconut.

Carrot, potatoes, radishes, beets and onions all grow underground meaning you eat the root and throw the green leafy part away, yet we eat the leafy part of lettuce and spinach and throw the root away. The skin of an apple is slick and smooth, the skin of a peach is soft and fuzzy. Who would think that something covered in fuzz would taste so sweet? Don’t even get me started on my vegetable of choice, the artichoke. Sheesh! It’s like a cactus you can eat.

My backyard plum tree

Avocados, tomatoes, berries, grapes and all manner of peppers and nuts come with very distinct tastes and preparation processes. Who knew you could crack open a pecan and snack on the deliciousness on the inside? It is, of course in your best interest to totally clean out the inside of a jalapeno before consumption.   I often wonder if Adam and Eve just knew these things or did they have to learn by trial and error. How many banana peels would you have to eat before you realized you’re not supposed to eat the outside? Maybe I’m giving Adam and Eve too much credit, maybe they learned from watching the animals? Monkeys always peel their bananas.

I don’t think that our intellect can match that of Adam and Eve, although I think I would know not to take advice from a snake, but we tend to judge by what we see on the outside never taking the time to see what is on the inside. Our garden friends had to judge from the inside out, if they wanted to eat.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Sam 16:7

Apple blossom

People are just like fruits and vegetables. Some are like the apple, what you see is what you get. Some are like the

orange and banana, with very little work, you get to see the sweetness of their humanity. Some have to be cracked like the coconut, but then the richness flows from them and you just can’t stop it.   Still, with some you have to dig down deep to the root before you ever find their heart of gold.  Yet with others, once you see their heart you find that it is steaming with the seeds of the Carolina Reaper.

 We don’t have to think about how to eat our fruits and vegetables. We already know what to peel, seed or crack, but when it comes to people we are as new to it as Adam and Eve in the garden pulling a garlic bulb out from the ground and taking a nice big bite. We have a tendency to judge people from the outside in instead of the inside out.

Granny Smith apple from my very small harvest

Unlike fruits and vegetables, that have not evolved much over the years, people have evolved quite a bit. We need to give the people that we meet, our friends and family time to be themselves, enough time that we see them for who they really are not for who they want us to see. We have to take some time, and sometimes a lot of time to really get to know one another. We must spend countless hours talking, laughing, crying, sharing and forgiving in order to see what is truly on the inside. However, just like in nature once we peel back layer after layer we don’t always find something sweet, there are times that once we reveal the core of a person we find the harshness of a chili pepper.

Apple pie, not made from apples from my tree

Many times, in my life I have been fooled by the exterior of a person, that sweetness they show on the outside was hiding the hot seeds of a habanero, on the inside. However, to my great pleasure the opposite is also true. I have taken the time to really get to know and to understand people who appear to be sour on the outside just to find out that underneath is a sweet, sweet person.

In today’s busy world we barely have enough time to peel back the outer layer of a banana, without turning up late for something, let alone take the time to get to know our friends and family from the inside out. Instead of judging the people we meet from the outside maybe we should sit down, take some time, have more than one conversation and get to know the people around us, because what we see on the surface is nothing like what we will find underneath.

Peach cobbler, made with peaches from my tree

Once you understand where a person comes from and what has shaped them, they become much easier to love, whether they be sweet as a peach or as bitter as garlic.

 

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Gen 1:29-30

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