A few years ago I spent ten months in the Middle East teaching and learning a lot about myself, God and brokenness. Don’t worry. I’m not talking about brokenness this time ‘round. I’m sure that’ll come though, just as a warning.
One of the main lessons I learned during that time (or have since figured out that I learned while I was there) was about perspectives. Life is life, but how you experience it, how you enjoy it (or don’t) all has to do with your outlook on what you experience throughout your short time here on Earth.
For instance, while in high school, there was a group of classmates that I pretty much despised. I mean, I was a good Christian girl, so if you had asked me, I would’ve denied it. But had you ever listened to me talking about them, you would have instantly known that I considered myself better than them, and that I pretty much thought they were the scum of the Earth. To be honest, this was probably partially in self-defense. I saw myself as the “fat” kid and they were the cool, beautiful people who happened to be super athletic. And, according to the movies I watched, those kids were supposed to make fun of kids like me. And while they never once gave me reason to believe they would do that, to my face they were all really nice, sweet people, I totally believed that behind my back they were making fun of me.
And whether or not they were is not the point. The point is I had the perspective (thanks to wonderful movies like Never Been Kissed) that cool kids make fun of awkward, or fat, or dorky kids. And so I saw their smiles as mocking, and their eventual silence as disdain (I snubbed them long enough that they eventually just ignored me) even if it wasn’t.
If I had one wish at this point in my life, I think it would be that I could go back to high school and change my perspective about those kids. I wish I could’ve seen them just as classmates, just fellow kids. I might’ve gotten to know them then. And who knows what friendships I would have now because of that, or how much of a different person I would be. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of wonderful friends, and I actually really like the woman I am right now, but I still wonder if I missed out on something better because I refused to see.
I think about that now too. How is my view of the world affecting my life? Is it stopping me from doing something, becoming someone’s friend? Or being bold enough to write a letter to get a project underway? Or is my perspective holding me back from knowing God in a more intimate way than I currently am? What is prejudicing my sight, and thus my actions, to the world around me and to God?
These are the pictures that got me thinking about perspectives. They are all of the same sunset, within minutes of each other from my roof. And, besides the slight difference of time, they should all be very similar. But they’re not, because of the filters I was using on my camera. How do you see the world around you? What filters are you using to view life as you start this new year?