Perspective...

Over the past few years, I've learned something really intriguing. For many of us, we learn who we are through the eyes and words of others. Some of us are able to develop a sense of self in a mostly independent fashion. The rest of us need a little bit of help. Unfortunately, our own brokenness often keeps us from seeing others as they truly are, especially those part of them that we might envy or feel missing within ourselves. When someone else's wholeness makes us more aware of our own lack of wholeness, we have a tendency to put on blinders.

I strongly believe that every single person suffers from some level of brokenness, but I also strongly believe that every person is capable of wholeness. Even more importantly, I think we all carry a piece of the Divine within us... a God-mark. I've been blessed to have a number of people in my life who could see that God-mark within me and told me so, most often during times where I was really struggling to see it in myself. When I can't see it in myself, it's often harder to see in others. In fact, when I don't feel it myself, I tend to project my lack of self-worth onto those around me. Thankfully, over time, I've learned to become more cognizant of this tendency and become more able to stop it mid-process.

Being in seminary, something about the environment tends to bring the depths of our brokenness out. It takes a lot to endure having your beliefs and presuppositions deconstructed and torn down. Sometimes, it gets the better of you. Now in my third year, I've witnessed a good amount of frustration in myself and in my peers during this journey of deconstruction. Often, it ends up getting directed at others (I do this as well... I'm not placing blame). The stress of being transformed turns us into something other than who we are... something angry, violent, judgmental... something weary, worn-out, burdened...

The biggest danger we face is a lack of self-awareness... a lack of perspective. When in a place that's strange and unfamiliar, we can't see who we are, and by proxy, we can't really see who others are. It's like being in a funhouse, full of mirrors that distort us and make us feel discombobulated. We have to be careful... we have to know that we're all on this journey together, and that we still all have that divine breath inside us. Everyone feels shattered from time to time. We can't take that out on others, especially those who seem more whole to us. When we speak to each other, we need to do so in love. When we make another person aware of a way in which they are manifesting brokenness, we need to do so gently, with compassion and understanding... even when we don't want to. Let's face it... one reality of being human is that we don't always like everyone we meet (for various reasons). But we are called to love them... a call that is not always easy.

Imagine what the world would look like if we engaged with others from a place of love and a presupposition of worth. Imagine if we put our whole selves out on the table, and in kind we respected and valued when others do the same instead of attacking their vulnerability because we're fearful of our own. Imagine being able to trust the ways others perceive us because we trust their love for us. Imagine telling others of the wholeness we see in them... both a wholeness already present, and a wholeness prophetically spoken into existence by the hope we carry within us. Imagine being a part of making someone else whole... of making everyone else whole...

How's that for a change of perspective...