“Mom, isn’t this picture cool?”
I folded the napkin and placed it next to the bowl, glancing over my shoulder at his drawing. “Yes. It’s nice.” I’ll admit it. I just did a 1/2 glance. He loves to draw, but he gets in phases where he draws the same scene over and over again. My eyes have been trained now to take a peek and say I like it.
I assume I already know because I’ve seen it before.
He inquired further this time. “What do you see?”
“I see us at the beach having a good time.”
“Well, that’s not what I drew. Look closer.”
Stepping away from the table, I curiously studied the paper. I saw what I thought was Jacob and Zachary in the ocean playing with a beach ball. A jelly fish was swimming a good distance away. They were safe. Meanwhile, me, Steve and Andrew were smiling and waving from the sand.
With full confidence, I relayed my interpretation to him. His smirk confirmed my errors. “Mom, that’s not it at all. Not even close. Look, me and Zachary are in the ocean, and a shark is heading our way. See, that is his fin and the ripples of water he is creating. You are shrieking from the beach and waving your hands around.”
Wow! Talk about a misinterpretation. I made the mistake of assuming it was the same old picture. I’d seen it before. A hundred times. However, from his standpoint, this time was different.
Perspective is everything.
I saw a happy beach scene. He saw a morbid approaching death scene. I had a positive outlook. He had a deadly outlook. It’s all about perspective. How we look into a situation.
Oftentimes the danger in our perspective is history. We tend to let our past experiences shape how we view our present situations.
Have you ever found yourself in conflict with someone or your feelings hurt over something and wish you could just get out of it? I have found myself here more times than I like. The fact is we can’t avoid conflicts.
I vowed this year to avoid any and all conflicts. Guess what! God brought me more! I kept my mouth closed when I wanted to speak, I fostered “healthy, safe” relationships and avoided ones with potential for conflict. It didn’t work. God has work to do in my heart that can only be worked out through conflict.
God works in my discomfort. This is a theme in my life right now, so let me repeat it. God works in my discomfort.
I’m uncomfortable with conflict. But in my discomfort, God’s power is revealed. When I’m in conflict, I must CHOOSE to love the person. This is not comfortable for me when I’m angry or hurt. In fact, it’s completely impossible for me to love. But it’s not impossible for God. So He lets me go there. To that place of extreme discomfort where I can choose to yield to Him, choose to obey Him, choose to love.
I’m always telling my boys, “If you want to get better at something, you need to practice.” Often those words reverberate back to my heart as I see God allowing me ample opportunities for practice.
The ding of my email sounded. I expected it was more junk mail to delete. Shocked, I read an email from a friend that had completely misinterpreted a message I conveyed. Initially, I began to play my side of the story in my head. How could they have assumed that…..I never said that…..I said this….Don’t they realize I have this going on and that’s why I said that…..It all made perfect sense. To me. My perspective was different than theirs. I didn’t have the same past experiences they had shaping their reactions. Nor did they have mine.
God’s whisper is so soft and gentle. So sweet to the soul. “No, Renee, they don’t see all of that. They simply want to feel loved. They have only their perspective, which is shaped from their past-which might have nothing to do with you. They might have past hurts and insecurities that feed into their interaction with you. Just love them.”
It’s uncomfortable to be in conflict. But love. Well, it covers it all.
1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
So here’s the challenge. Will you join me in getting uncomfortable with God? Where do you feel God leading you out of your comfort zone? Do you see Him guiding you towards greater holiness through your discomfort? Do you see relationships characterized by conflict in which you can choose love?