Wednesday, April 24, 2019

See What You Want to See

(This is a five minute blog post.)

   What do you see when you see me? To be honest, I'm never really sure. I try to spend less time thinking about what other think these days, so I can spend more time thinking about what God thinks, instead. I don't say that to try to sound holier-than-thou, more that I am prone to be too introspective, too easily swayed by the opinions of others.

   And also because the longer I am around, the more I realize: we see what we want to see. We meet someone new and we instantly start forming opinions, applying adjectives: short, tall, skinny, plump, smart, sweet, in-charge, mousy, silly, rich, frugal, and the list continues on, never-ending. And most of the time we make a snap decision: I do or don't like this person. And then we expect them to carry the weight of our expectations.

   Sometimes this happens in a few moments, other times it can be built out of long-term data: a person's Facebook page, their Instagram account, their family, their other friends, their positions at work, at church. We don't really get to know them, instead we play Sherlock Holmes, collecting information that supports our theories, discarding what doesn't suit.

    But do we really get to *know* them? Very few of us fit neatly in boxes. Very few of us suit the label "perfect". Very, very few of us, when you boil it down to the bare bones, are deserving of jealousy. Very few of us want to incite that feeling in others.

"Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" Proverbs 27:4 NIV
   Sometimes I want to borrow the refrain of the rebellious teenager, "You don't know me! You don't know my life!" Because, sadly, this is often true. You judged me based on what you wanted to see, you never took the time to get to truly know me.

   And the reverse is often true. You intimidated me, you sparked the green monster of envy, you looked pulled together, fit, you were smart and sassy, confident in your decisions. So, I never chose to look past the labels that I slapped on you, perhaps some fitting, others just a mistake made in haste. I never asked you if you had needs, or burdens. I never wanted to let you outside the box I created, it was too much work to re-think things.

   "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 NIV

   It was too much work to bear with you, to suffer through your ups and downs while suffering through my own. I didn't want to be patient; I wanted you to be what I thought you should be now. Or I thought you were something you weren't, and I was unwilling to see where the road might take us.

   I'm sorry for the times that I only saw what I wanted to see. The times that I missed out on beautiful friendships because of jealousy, or fear, or impatience. I'm sorry for the things you missed out on with me-that I am many, many things, but none of them is perfect. Perhaps the next time we can be brave enough to look past, look through, look into, and not only see what we want to see.

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11 NIV 

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