hint: It has to do with your lens.
Her name was Sally and when she clasped both her soft old hands around mine and smiled at me I knew I wanted to know her secret. You could tell from her warm smile that she knew how to live and love well. Have you met someone like that? I can think of just a handful of people in my life that leave a mark like this. A mark that gives me hope I could possibly turn out to love life like they do.
I used to think the secret to living well was more about successes and the amount of quality stuff you owned. But the happiest people I’ve met have less stuff than I have now, and a many more of them have come through hard failures and struggles. I know now, it’s about your lens. It’s about a depth in your soul, it’s about seeing your world around you and seeing yourself through a filter that is not human nature.
What lens do you look through? And how does it affect the way you see your circumstances and the way you view yourself?
I’ve got to be honest with you. There have been days that I’m ashamed to reminisce. Days where I’ve selfishly snapped at everyone around me. I’ve said things that should never be said. Words I can’t take back. I may have caused scars. And there have been days where I have bullied myself into thinking that I’ll never be enough for anyone or anything. Scars on my own heart. I admit there have been days where I don’t want to get out of bed, and I carry this pity around with me thinking life stinks. Every little thing that goes wrong on days like this is another punch in the gut.
Do you ever have days like this?
This isn’t living well. This isn’t the life Jesus was talking about when He said I come to give you life abundantly. We’ve gotten in the way. Our own human default has blocked the view.
So how do we get out of the way? How do we see through a different lens when our current one is all we’ve ever known?
It starts with a sincere statement.
Lord, give me your eyes today. Lord, let me see this world, these people around me, my circumstances and myself the way that you see it! I want your lens, Lord, not mine.
And it starts with sincere movement.
A movement of getting out of the way. Letting go of the bitter thoughts that hold you captive. Thoughts that continue to scrape away at your soul.
Friend, things are not as bad as they seem, they never are. Nothing is too big for God to handle.
If you changed your lens you might see the goodness even now, in this horrible situation.
If you changed your lens, you might be able to see what God is working out now, instead of seeing it through your flawed human lens.
If you changed your lens you might be able to see the mountain of blessings God has heaped on you today, things you were not able to see before with your own lens.
If you changed your lens, you might be able to see that there is a way out of your mistakes, it might become clear to you who you need to ask forgiveness from and who you need to forgive. You may need to forgive yourself.
It starts small. The more you learn to view your world through God’s lens, the more of a habit it becomes. In the beginning, changing your lens can help you to live well, but the more you begin to see God working and His character all around you, you soon begin to love well too. When you make a habit of choosing to view life around you through God’s eyes, things take on another shape.
Homeless people are no longer homeless people. They are individuals with a story. The people driving around you are not just people, they are daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, grandparents, they are lovers and fighters, they are victims and they have scars too. They are just like you in many ways. And they are dearly dearly loved by their Father God.
Even your problems change. Sometimes they disappear, sometimes they become great adventures or valuable lessons, sometimes they make something possible that wouldn’t have otherwise been.
The mundane becomes extraordinary. The hardship becomes character building. The failure becomes opportunity. The sacrifice becomes your offering.
You begin to see yourself correctly, the way that God sees you. You begin to recognize the lies you’ve been feeding on, and the fears that have been holding you back.
You become FREE. Free to live, free to love, free to seek, free to explore. You might find that life becomes more of an adventure. It’s the secret to living and loving well.
So will you start today? Will you begin to explore what life can be like when you change your lens?
(Note: This is a rewrite of an earlier blog post titled To Love People and Live Well: Goggles Required)