hundred-year-old barn timber and restore it, revealing beautiful pieces of wood for use in new construction as flooring. The motto of the business is, “We don’t offer perfection but, rather, the beauty of imperfection.” The dings and bruises, when restored, provide character that beautifies the rooms in which they are laid.
This antique wood is different from the stuff you’ll find in the laminate flooring section of Home Depot. That wood is fake - it has a veneer. As Locy explained, “Veneer is a thin coating applied over a surface in order to hide an inferior material; it gives the finished good the appearance of something it is not. When applied to a less-expensive piece of wood (or composite), veneer tricks the eye into thinking the piece is of higher quality.”
A sad result of the Fall is that we all live under a veneer. Instead of living fully as who we are made to be, we coat ourselves and hide behind this veneer, making it difficult to live as we should.
We are trained to live in a veneer through what Locy and Willard called the “Three Languages of Culture.” Celebrity teaches us to live vicariously through others’ more glamorous lives. Consumption teaches us to buy stuff in order to create a fake image of who we want other people to see us as. Technology (progress) continually creates new options to place space between our real selves and the people around us. A downside to Facebook, Twitter, and blogging is that quantity often wins over quality and our identities are too-often relegated to a screen of perceptions. A Facebook status can often be a simple and not-too-deep statement of who we are and what we want out of life, or a marketing veneer to boost our image in the eyes of others. Because of technology, consumerism, and celebrity, “we can be anybody and nobody at the same time.”
We must strip away the veneer to reveal something of true and lasting beauty.
The reason we put on a veneer is because there is something relational that is missing in our lives. The antidote of veneer, therefore, is love, relationships, and abiding in Christ.
We need to be with people, not hiding behind veneers of living vicariously through celebrity, of the faux images of ourselves that are accessed by what we consume, and of hiding behind technological facades.
Would we rather live under a veneer (a faked perfection, hiding the inferior product that lies underneath), or as real wood, with all its dings (all the hardships and failings and frustrations and scars of life) that make each of us unique?
“Our un-veneered lives should speak triumphantly, testifying that there is no need to hide true selves in order to gain acceptance.”
Jason Locy and Tim Willard’s book, Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society is due out in April. Check out their website and blog at endveneer.com.