The moment I saw the cow standing in our front yard, I remember thinking that rural living wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The fact that this prospective four-legged “hamburger” had spent the night on our lawn certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the neighbor’s dog. And to think, I used to complain about him when we lived in a pristine neighborhood in town.

Looking back, I should have counted my blessings.

Like so many folks who long for the country life, I’d read my share of glossy magazines. My husband and I would linger over pages of idyllic scenes; the family cat serenely asleep on the porch swing, flowering gardens brimming with lush blossoms and farm animals dotting a verdant landscape.

However, now that we’ve been part of the real picture for quite a few years, let me get the truth in print.

In my mind, there’s been a bit of false advertising.

That feline on the wicker? He’s not asleep. Instead that cute little fur-ball is quietly plotting a nighttime attack on your bedroom window screens, all the while considering which decibel of “meow” will rise above a loud snore.

And there’s not a word in those magazine articles about dogs, or coyotes, that don’t know the meaning of a quiet nocturnal moment, or itchy “foxtails” that migrate in the laundry from your socks to your underwear, or powder-fine dust rising from that quaint country road to your shiny black car.

This misrepresentation of country living has made me question some things. Such as, why did we move more than five minutes from the mall or asphalt-covered streets?

But in more contemplative moments, when the cows are tucked behind fences and dusting is done … again, I can’t help but wonder how much in life isn’t as it first appears.

There are so many things that look quite inviting at first, but may have long-lasting and unforeseen consequences.

For instance, the gossip that seems harmless, but can change a perspective forever. The joke we tell at work but not at church, and now the listener sees no reason to ever go there. 

Or our irritability towards others on a “bad hair day” when we’ve been quoting Bible verses about patience and unconditional love.

At the time we’re doing these things, they may seem innocuous, but as people of faith, it’s an image we’re projecting that might make God cringe. He wants us to reflect him, to take the road less traveled, to stand apart and portray truth.

When we don’t, it can appear to be false advertising.

In the big picture, I imagine it’s nothing new, the way his children fall short at times, failing to live according to his instructions. 

In fact, now that I think about it, this has been happening since the beginning of time.

If you recall, Adam and Eve discovered the shiny “apple” wasn’t really what it first appeared to be. And you know what happened to them.

They had to move to the country.

Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, “Light Bringer.”


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