An ad tried to convince me that, "It's not your shoes. It's not your car. It's not your music. It's your watch that tells most about who you are."
I hope that isn't true. If it is, my watch says some rather uncomplimentary things about me. Since it doesn't have a a brand name, it says I am frugal. No-- make that "cheap." I probably paid about $10 for it. It has rather large numbers on the face, meaning that my vision probably isn't too good. It runs a little slow, just like me and it isn't too accurate. I confess to that too. The watch ad would like me to spend two or three hundred dollars to improve my image.
But just suppose I spent the money, strapped the watch onto my wrist, and presented myself to the world. According to the watch merchants, the watch would tell people that I am successful, assertive, smart, wealthy and modern. Maybe even good looking. But I cringe. Would that really be me? What would happen when I took the watch off at night? Would I revert to my former self? Like Cinderella, would my horses turn to mice again and my carriage to a pumpkin?
Rosemary Cobham wrote some years ago for the Christian Science Monitor, "when I was a very little girl, an old wise friend said to me, 'Always be yourself, never imitate. God made the elephants, but he made the rabbits, too.'" Good point. Watch or no watch, I don't think I could be comfortable projecting an image that wasn't really me.
There is a story about an old rabbi who worried that when he died and tried to enter heaven, the question would be asked why he was not like Abraham or Jacob or Moses. Then, in a dream, his fear came true. But when he stood at heaven's gates, the question asked was, "Why were you not like you?"
It takes considerable courage to be yourself in a world which strives so hard to make you somebody you are not. It's easy to succumb to the pressures of our make-believe world. But then, holding up a mask can be such an exhausting enterprise. So I think I'll keep my cheap watch, thank you, and ask the world to accept me as I am. And then, if the battery goes dead, maybe you could be so good as to give me the correct time.
Wilbur Rees is currently Pastor Emeritus at Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland.
Wilbur calls himself a “survivor.” Having weathered the first two and a half decades of a tumultuous life, he went on to complete his education and serve as pastor in four states. He has written numerous article for religious publications and, in addition to this book, is the author of “Three Dollars Worth of God”. He is now retired and lives with his wife in Washington State.