Ready for a Truly Extreme Makeover?

As in the 1999 movie “Faceoff,” face transplants have been the fodder of science fiction. Until now. Dr. Maria Siemionow of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, is now interviewing five men and seven women to the chance to have the first-ever face transplant. Dr. Siemionow has assembled a team of experts and has performed such surgical procedures on animals and scores of cadavers. For people desperate enough to pay the price, the prospect of changing a face disfigured by burns or other accidents for a better one may soon be realized. Critics point to the possibility that the body will reject the transplanted face, causing it to slough off in a few days, leaving the patient worse off then before the operation.

To one degree or another, we are all concerned with self-image and self-esteem. We all want to look our best, to have an appearance that at least does not prompt shocked stares or looks of disgust. Until now, our choices have been rather limited. Lose some weight. Trim your beard. Comb your hair, at least once in a while. We can easily become obsessed with the way we look, focusing on our perceived imperfections so much that we never climb out of the pit of feeling self-conscious around others.

Fact is, the cliché, “No one is perfect,” applies to physical appearance just as much as to other aspects of life. Accepting who we are is a big first step in moving toward maturity. It frees us to turn our attention away from ourselves so that we can focus on other people. Christians find the basis of self-acceptance in verses like this: “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). To accept me, He set no prerequisites beyond my need for Him. I certainly didn't have to pass a standard of physical beauty.

On the flip side, if we can communicate to others how our acceptance of them is not dependent on their appearance, we can contribute a great deal to their self esteem. Jesus explained the principle in this simple, Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated” (Matthew 7:12). Treat them, in other words, the way He treats you. His acceptance necessarily demands a mirrored response to be accepting of others.

One thing we can easily do that works in both directions--bringing out the best in you, and communicating your acceptance of other people--make a habit of smiling! It’s easy, there’s little risk, and it’s got to be a lot cheaper than the Sieminonow Procedure. But for some of us, it would be a really radical, extreme makeover.

Steve Singleton,
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