"Sow a thought, reap an action;sow an action, reap a habit;sow a habit, reap a character;sow a character, reap a destiny."
-unknown (I found this attributed to a multitude of people)
We all see the world through our own point of view. Truth is not relative. Truth is things as the really are, but it can be difficult to discern at times. We are constantly surrounded with a barrage of information. It is our task to sift through it and try to determine what is true and what is not and then to make the best decisions we can based on the knowledge we have.
We can make decisions impulsively, or take time to think through things and consider the options. I think there is a time and place for both.
I have had times where I know what is right and true with a surety, so I can confidently move forward even though I don't know the details of what that that path may hold. Moving to this area was one such journey. I knew I was supposed to move here and take a particular job, even though it was only part time and wouldn't pay all my bills. I didn't know where I was going to live or what else I would do for work, but I knew that this was where the Lord wanted me to be, so I took a step into the darkness and everything fell into place.
There have also been times when I am tempted to act impulsively, but I am grateful if I wait a little longer. I recently started hearing about how chlorine can be bad to shower in and not just taste nasty. Since our water here is quite chlorinated, my first thought was, "I don't want to take another shower until we can get a filter on there!" Then I thought for a while and realized that it would be better to take time to research and find which filter will be best and in the mean time, continuing to shower regularly will not kill me (at least not instantly).
Our background, beliefs and experiences have a dramatic influence on our perspective. My upbringing was very different than my husband's, so sometimes I will think something is obvious and he won't understand what I am talking about. Or he may be explaining a computer program to me in clear obvious terms and wonder why I don't get it! It isn't a question of who is wrong and who is right, it is simply a matter of different perspectives.
Our view of where we fit in the universe makes a difference too. Since I believe that there is more to our life than this brief stint on earth and that we continue to exist after death, I will react to situations differently than a person who believes this is all there is. When I remember that the things of this earth are temporary, some things matter more, and others matter less.
It is so easy to get caught up in everything going on around us, but sometimes I have to ask myself, "Will this matter 500 years from now?" Many things will still matter to a certain extent, but I think many more things will be proved unimportant.
I remember the Christmas before I graduated High School. Instead of getting toys or fancy gadgets, I got tupperware and silverware. It was perfect! My younger brothers thought it was odd that I was excited over kitchen items, but I recognized that having dishes to eat off would soon be more important than having a digital pet to adorn my belt loops. I still have some of the toys I had as a child, and have many fond memories with them, but when Christmas rolls around, I don't ask for My Little Ponies anymore.I know I won't play with them, but I will play with kitchen toys. And all the toys I never got that were so important to me decades ago? I don't remember what they were and don't miss them.
It isn't just things that are temporary, but we are in a temporary state as well. I'm a different person than I was last year, and I hope to be different next year. Many, many years from now, after I have died and been resurrected, I'm going to be AWESOME, but in the mean time, I have a lot of flaws. It can be tempting to make choices based on who I am and what I am experiencing right now. I am an imperfect person with a lot of flaws and shortcomings. But these temporal setbacks are temporary.
When I take time to look at the big picture, it is easier to avoid making permanent mistakes based on temporary situations.
The View Outward
When we look at the world, what do we see? Do we embrace it or fear it? Are there aspects we avoid? What things do we consider "evil" and what do we consider "good"? Again, I don't believe that truth is relative. Truth is eternal and unchanging, but we may be wrong in what we perceive is true. Often we get caught in false dichotomies.
Everyone is in a different situation, and there isn't a one size fits all approach in life. Cloth diapers work best for me and my family, but that doesn't mean that everyone that uses disposable diapers is a horrible, mean person that hates the environment and likes to waste money. Life is not all about competition. Cloth vs. disposable is not good vs. evil.
I remember at times in my life when I have been most self conscious, I'm more likely to look at other people to see what they are doing. I compare my own appearance, choices, and actions to others. This may influence the choices I make, or it may just influence my view of other people. I may choose a certain brand because someone I respect chose that brand, so it must be good and I want to be like them. Or I may be tempted to look down on someone else because they aren't as "informed" or "enlightened" as I am and they chose a different path.
It is too easy to judge others based on my own limited view of the universe. My friend I just met is awesome because she thinks the same as me on so many topics. But my neighbor makes choices that seem so foolish! Don't they realize what they are doing? I have often found that most people are actually really neat people with a great story if I take the time to really get to know them. I have to look past the superficial layers and what I see on the surface.
What gives me the right to think that I can fully understand everything there is to know about a person and their motives after 30 seconds of observation, when I am still trying to figure out myself after decades?
The View Inward
I think the problem of judging isn't just about judging other people though. Because of our dual nature, we can often be confused and misled. We can lose balance and focus too much one one side of our personality or the other.
Watch this video and think of the thoughts that the women could be thinking before, during, and after this encounter:
What might she have said to herself right after this meeting? How about a few days or weeks later?
"I met Jesus Christ and He didn't accuse me. I'm so glad that I didn't get in trouble, now I can do whatever I want!"
"That was a close one, it is a good thing He outwitted my accusers. I will have to be more careful not to get caught next time."
"It worked! I knew if I just looked pitiful and repentant enough, I would manage to escape condemnation. The tears work every time."
"I am a sinner, and I deserved to die. I don't know why I was saved that time, I have messed up so many times and am bound to mess up again. It is only a matter of time until it ruins my life forever. I can't change."
"I made a horrible mistake, but was miraculously saved. My life is changed forever, I never want to return to the path I was on. I've been given another chance and I intend to take advantage of it."
"I messed up before, and I'm sure I will mess up again. But I know that the Lord loves me. Jesus saved me because He can see something in me that I can't see in myself. I know I won't be perfect, but I am going to do my best to improve because I want to be the kind of person He wants me to be."
How do we see ourselves? How does the Lord see us? Humility isn't about being walked all over, it is about realizing that God has a bigger plan for us than we have for ourselves. As we are able to see in ourselves what God see in us, it changes who we are for the better.
None of us will be perfect in this life, but our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son to this earth. We can repent and be forgiven, no matter what we have done. Even when we can't see any potential, He sees all the good in us and knows that there is hope when we are hopeless. We can be forgiven upon conditions of repentance and we can put our lives back on the path that leads to happiness.