When I started back to college, I bought a nice wood 2-drawer file cabinet. We needed more file space anyway, and I wanted a decent-looking piece of furniture because my desk was in our bedroom at the time. Thanks to Brent’s assembly skills (hey, at least I unpacked the pieces from the box), it turned out well. It stands straight, the drawers slide smoothly and the cherry finish is beautiful.
Now, almost six years later, I am having my first problem with the cabinet. These days I work at a bigger desk in our extra-bedroom-turned-office, and the file cabinet doubles as a printer stand. The drawers still work just fine, but the front panel of the top one has developed an embarrassing flaw… the cherry wood along the edges is coming loose. This makes it glaringly obvious that the piece is not cherry at all. Well, a thin outer layer is cherry, but the vast bulk of the panel consists of some heavy, pale “wood product” that looks like glued-together ground-up wood, sort of like those unnatural frozen chicken nuggets, only using sawdust instead of chicken dust.
The cherry veneer strip on the top edge of the drawer front persists in standing up just a little, as if trying to discreetly peek at the top of my desk. But the strip along the left side is more openly rebellious; a good four inches of it have pulled away from the top, and the end of the strip stands out half an inch away from its sawdust base. I keep catching cords on it when I connect or move stuff. Besides, that funky albino wood product glimmering from underneath the sproinging veneer distracts me when I am trying to think.
Excuse me, I’d better do something about that…
Okay, I’m back. A little wood glue sealed the strips back into place, and restored the dignified cherry-wood look of my file cabinet. But of course it’s still albino wood product on the inside. That got me to thinking… people who know me personally know what I look and act like on the outside–but is that the real me, or just a veneer?
Everyone knows about the “Eddie Haskell”-type character who acts all polite in front of parents, but bullies other kids as soon as the grownups are out of sight. “Polite” is a veneer and Eddie wears it on purpose. I don’t think mine is that extreme, but it is so easy to try to give the impression that I am a little more mature, a little smarter, a little more important than I really am. And I can’t even tell I am doing it. I think we’re all in the same boat; our human motives are just too elusive and tangled for us to understand fully. The prophet Jeremiah knew all about this 2600 years ago when he wrote:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
Hmm… good question. Who can know the unknowable… maybe someone who is all-knowing? Yep, Jeremiah goes on quoting God in the next sentence:
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
So, if you tend to present an artificial face to the world, or are simply unsure of your own motives, my best advice is to admit it to the one who already sees past your veneer. He knows what you are really made of and, if you ask, will show you where you need change. If I can actually grow into the person I want to be, then that will show on the outside too. My goal is to do away with veneers altogether.
But then what will I do with all this wood glue?
Thanks for reading!
PS: Scripture quotes are from Jeremiah chapter 17, verses 9 and 10 in the New King James Version.