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HOW TO DE-EMPHASIZE APPEARANCES

"But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance or on the height of his countenance; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance., but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7.)

The outward appearance may not be a big nose, a funny face, tattered clothes, different skin color or a crippled body, but it may be a timid, backward countenance or an angry stare that belies the true countenance of the heart. People like this need to know they are loved and needed. He or she may be angry and cantankerous because they feel no one cares. Those who have felt rejected by others find find solace in knowing they are Heavenly Father's children and will be blessed by living His commandments. Thus you will have empathy for others and should be more willing to stretch forth the hand of friendship.Get to know people as individual spirits. Invite them over for dinner. Go to a movie with them. What! Be seen in public? For as ye serve those that are different than yourself, you're in the service of your Lord. Take the drug addict to Alcoholics Anonymous. Sit and comfort or socialize with those whom, at the present time, you may feel uncomfortable being around. You'll be blessed with friendships that will enrich your life. - Daniel A. Stapleton, Toronto, Ontario

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How we did it:

Develop inner beauty

When I was a Beehive, one of the guest speakers to our ward said something that impressed me. She quoted where the Book of Mormon speaks of vanity and where Moroni speaks of adornment. She said when we spend too much time on our physical appearances, we are dealing with dead things. Our clothes have no life, our fingernails and hair, of and by themselves, are dead, and even the outer layer of our skin is just a bunch of dead cells.

She challenged the girls to spend at least as much time working on their living and inner beauty as they do on their outer self. This means that a half hour on the hair is followed by a half hour reading the scriptures. Two hours shopping for clothes is preceded by at least that much time serving others. This simple exercise instills a truer perspective on what's important in life. - L. Kimball, Cedar City, Utah

Stop finding fault

We won the battle and agreed to come to earth and gain a body. But now that we're here, and we have our body, it seems we can't stop finding fault with it. "I'm too fat" or "I hate my hair" are everyday phrases.

It's important to keep clean and look our best, but we also should put more effort into improving our inside appearances than our outside looks. When it comes to others, maybe we could avoid putting so much emphasis on their physical appearance by giving those who are "less attractive" a chance to show us what they're like inside, and by looking beyond the good looks of those who we might think are "attractive." - April Stayner, Mesa, Ariz.

Concentrate on others

My mother taught my sisters and me an important thought as we would prepare for the day. She would say take the time you need to look nice, but once you walk out the door, forget yourself. This takes the burden off worrying about appearance all day and helps me concentrate on others instead of myself. - Laurie McMillan, Burley, Idaho

Look beyond appearance

Appearances are important, but I find that because I have a weight problem with medical casues, I can't put 100 percent importance on appearances. I find that other people don't like me because of my weight problem, so in turn, I try to find other things besides appearances on which to place importance. Things that rank high are spirituality, intelligence, personalilty, sense of humor and the ability to listen.

Appearances aren't everything that the world makes them out to be. Sometimes when I find that people would rather like someone who is a size 9, but look beyouund the outer shell of people and look into their hearts. Someone could not be nice looking at all, but have the world's best personality. - Roseann Tarr, Pensacola, Fla.

Uses Christ's standard

Recently while preparing a Relief Society spiritual living lesson, I came across a standard used by President David O. McKay that helps me avoid placing too much importance on appearances. When I find myself in a particular situation I ask, "What would Christ do?" When I am having a problem with another individual, I ask, "What qualities in the other person does Christ see?"

Recently I have tried it on some strained family relationships, and they have significantly improved. Be yourself and be motivated by a sincere desire to know and love others as yourself. - Syndy Cunningham, Owasso, Okla.

Follow the prophets

One of the best ways to avoid our society's tendency to place too much importance on appearance is to follow the counsel of the Lord's prophets.

They have told us to keep ourselves and our homes neat, clean and tidy. In D$C 42:40, we are counseled, "And again thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands.'

It isn't the house we live in, the car we drive or the clothes we wear that make us the person we are. It is our ideals, beliefs and principles, and in accordance with them, our thoughts, feelings and actions projecting our true appearance to others. - Joan Eaton, Salina, Kan.

What is too much?

Every time I hear this topic, I think of the vain, heartless queen in Snow White asking the enchanted mirror who is the fairest of them all. The person and the question go well together.

But placing an importance on appearance does not always have to be vain. Taking pride in your appearance - along with having and keeping values, fulfilling responsiblilities and having charity - is a part of your overall picture.

However, what is too much? The gospel teaches a Christ-like love. Service to the Lord and our brothers and sisters is a top priority. Too much emphasis on appearance is when we replace service to others with self-service. It's when appearance becomes the source rather than expression of our pride. It also is when ownership replaces stewardship. When I look at the celestial room of the temple, I see elegance, taste and beauty. The feeling is heavenly. But the celestial room is this way because it is celestial, not because its appearance. The appearance only reflects the high value and love it represents. Someone once said, be careful not to mistake style for substance. To me, celestial is both style and substance but maybe not in that order. - Ron Kester, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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How to checklist:

1. Spend time beautifying what's inside as well as outside.

2. Look for qualities in yourself, others that Christ would see.

3. Make appearance an expression of self-worth, not a source of pride.

4. Befriend those whose appearance may make you feel uncomfortable.

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WRITE TO US:

Feb. 27 "How to have an enjoyable dating relationship when there are few or no Church members to date."

March 5 "How to identify a spiritual prompting."

March 12 "How to draw closer as a family through family home evening."

March 19 "How to develop self-reliance and independence."

March 26 "How to improve the quality of your life."

April 2 "How to store important records."

April 16 "How to make time for exercise."

April 23 "How to raise a usefule garden, especially with limited space."

April 30 "How to make Mother's Day memorable for your mother."

May 7 "How to grow old with a pleasant, positive disposition."

Have you had good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.