Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Life can be summed up prettily as a matter of perspective. I began seeing this a long time ago in the differing interpretations the Mr. and myself would find in any given situation. He was always assuming the other guy meant no harm and I always knew for sure that the other guy was a no good snake. While you’d think this would have struck a nice balance between us, it generally caused conversations to degenerate into me yelling and him looking self-righteously smug. And me fighting the urge to clock him.
Over time I’ve come to realize that God is everywhere, not just in the sermon of the preacher or the Daily Bread on my kitchen window sill. Oh, we all know this intellectually but it’s a great big leap for most of us to really internalize it into our spirits so it works like it’s supposed to.
I think of God as the ultimate teacher, forever finding new ways to catch the attention of me, his student. And I, like most students, get bored with the lessons. My mind wanders and I doze off during instruction. So, as any great teacher does, he finds a new route. On the issue of perspective he used Oprah.
I think Oprah is a humanistic egomaniac, but nonetheless, God used Oprah as an object lesson. He’s that good of a teacher.
So on this particular day a hundred years ago when I still watched Oprah, she said something spiritually significant. I’ve no idea what the particular theme of the day was but she was talking about having lost her keys whilst jogging and Stedman saying more or less the following to her...
“You lose your keys every time you go jogging. The question now is not where are your keys, but why do you keep losing them?” and Oprah’s realization that repeated problems must indicate that said problem has not been properly dealt with. And that it would keep resurfacing until dealt with.
And that my friends, was my lesson in perspective.
The Mr. is the master of non-confrontation. I mean, to epic proportions. Seriously, he can’t even see the confrontation. It’s pathological. It is no secret between us that I consider his refusal to look at problems as unhealthy.
I, on the other hand, will confront the crap out of life on a daily basis.
Who’s right? Oprah is right.
We all have different Achilles heels when it comes to spiritually growing up. We want to simplify it into the wrong or the right. It’s better to forgive! It’s better to deal with problems! What is really better is to say to God, “Hey, this is a repeating theme in my life. Is there a better way for ME to handle this?”
In childhood, there are developmental milestones that we look for. A kid who doesn’t roll over, doesn’t walk, can’t socialize; will stay in that particular stage of life until that milestone can be reached. And if it isn’t reached, there’s a problem called “developmental delay.” When it’s chronic, it’s a diagnosis that indicates some serious challenges in that kid’s life.
Spiritually, we can be developmentally delayed. We pretend that we can skip over this or that milestone and still keep maturing. Not so. You have to roll over, sit up, scoot, crawl, walk and then run. When baby doesn’t roll over, mom or dad started working with them on the skill. Helping them roll, guiding their little bodies, encouraging and applauding the efforts until the milestone is reached.
Likewise, God will keep taking us back to that lesson until we achieve the milestone. The problem is that we don’t even recognize that we’re being instructed. Especially if our perspective is skewed. And it is often a matter of relationships that find us with the wrong focus.
When I would find myself frustrated (ie enraged) with someone, I would have a list of their offenses to back up my reaction. And while Dean tried to argue the point he would do so defending the other guy. He didn’t mean it. I misunderstood. He was having a bad day... Blah Blah Blah! Have you ever had one of these conversations? Does it ever work? Do you ever say, “Oh, Irving was having a bad day and didn’t mean to flip me off? Well! All’s forgiven! I shall make him a cupcake to show my goodwill!”
Well, if this approach works for you, you are more mature than I.
How did I finally learn my lesson? I stopped looking at Irving and started examining my own responses. And I let God start reshaping them because the lesson I was missing was it wasn’t about what a jerk Irving is. The lesson was that it was time for me to grow up just a little. Time for the next milestone of life for my spirit. And until I learned to focus in on my own responses, I was put back in those potentially offensive situations over and over again. I thought I was the victim of a lengthy line of jerks. In truth, I was a student being forced to repeat lessons that I hadn't passed. God kept bringing Irving back into my path until I started changing my perspective and therefore, my responses.
We all have individual Irvings. Being confrontational is just one of mine. There are enough lessons to last me a lifetime. I just keep trying to see the next one and deal with it. I’m no dummy, I finally figured out that the sooner I changed my perspective, the sooner I’d be done with the issue. Being self-centered and not liking unpleasantness in my life, I’m now happy to reach the milestone and move past it.
The question of the day is this, does there seem to be a repeating them in your life? Especially relationally? Are there Irvings out there causing you grief over and over? If so, check your perspective.
The one in need of the lesson might be you.
...be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.