Happy New Year! I am hoping that each of these posts help you continue to grow in relationship and love with God and others!
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
When my son and his wife served as missionaries in Madrid, Spain they partnered with Campus Crusade for Christ (now, CRU) to reach out to international students at the University of Madrid. They set up tables out in the common area where students would gather for conversation, study and rest. The sign read, “¿Qué Vas?” Basically, “What do you See?” The table was scattered with 6X6 black and white photos of people, places and things. There were close-ups and panoramas. Some photos were close-up images of larger things - -extreme close-ups like the hair on grasshopper legs, or patterns of the human eye inside the iris, the veins of a flower pedal or the textures of a fish scale. Other pictures were far off vistas like the earth from space or the view from a 12,000 foot mountain peak over a sea of tumultuous clouds.
The students would then write or talk about what they saw in the photos they chose. A conversation began and those who were interested could continue the conversation and explore things of life, things of faith or make a new friend.
We each have a view of our life from our “micro” perspective. Sometimes we see our own life so closely that it is difficult to see it clearly. This kind of living can become ingrown, judgmental and less satisfying than desired. Today I want to begin a conversation about how we can become so close and close-viewed that it is difficult to see our life clearly.
In our daily rhythm of life, we may not be aware that we are functioning and behaving out of complex patterns. Patterns of relationships that we inherit from the family we grew up in and patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that we have developed in response to our experiences and beliefs. If we let these patterns run without reflection and management, we may run the risk -and probably will- of hurting our self and others along the way. What are the patterns that drive your thoughts, feelings and behaviors?
As a follower of Christ, I call myself a Christian. As a Christian I read the Holy Bible and find in God’s Word a deep wisdom that surpasses my own default thinking. One of the principles that God reveals to us in the history of people and in His Word is that we are not always great at making our own good choices. We choose out of self-centered and self-preserving motives, without considering God’s way or even how it may hurt or help others or ourselves. At times we just feel and then behave, bypassing reflection, prayer, thought or wise feedback. At times—most of the time—we are too close to the picture to see it clearly. We have no idea that there is a whole grasshopper attached to all those hairy, craggy appendages. What would it look like to pan out and look at life from God’s perspective? What would it look like to risk the input of a trusted and wise friend, family member or teacher?
Let’s take for example family relationship patterns. Do you have a closed family pattern or an open one? How open are you to have others join in your family circle? What would others have to say about how they experience you and your family? How have you behaved toward your children, your spouse, your parent, your sibling today? Was it loving and kind or reactionary and cruel? If you panned out and looked at your relationship patterns over a week, month or year what would that story begin to reveal? What patterns are you entrenching into your life and the life of those close to you?
To put this into the real business of living with others we might look more closely at relationship patterns in the family. This is a risky undertaking. We may find that what we believe, say and choose to do is not always in line with the Way of Jesus. The relational patterns in our family may reflect our own self-protective nature, which is not always kind to others or in their best interest. As a young mother I would at times snap at my kids and get them to entertain themselves in order to get them “out of my hair”. At times I would ignore my husband’s request for time or react when I could have responded after a thoughtful pause. If I pause and reflect on how I am showing up in the lives of my loved ones today-it may reveal some part of my own character that God would like for me to bring to Him for reformation.
Jesus said that not many would choose the path of life. It is narrow. I believe that this narrow road first begins with a repentant surrender to Jesus as Lord of all one’s life. Then, it is a devotion to reflection, prayer and walking out a new way of living. This life of sanctification is not done alone. We also need others to reflect, share and walk with us. We need to pick up the pictures together and ask each other, “What do you see?” “¿Qué Vas?” It is a risky, messy business. Is it worth the risk? Only you can decide.
What will you be willing to look at more closely (or more broadly) in this upcoming year? What will you let another look at with you?
Next time we will look more at emotions and how they play a role in living life well.