My perspective on life has been shaped by so many things. Experiences, people, places. Every moment along my life path has added to my little bundle I carry with me. And, that little bundle works as a filter for how I experience new things.
Last week I was visiting a friend of mine in Oregon. We always have great moments together. I knew before I even left on my trip that I would come home with things to write about.
This particular weekend was unusually cool in the Portland area. Every morning I would sip my tea and watch the sun rise in between Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood. And, every morning I would watch as the low clouds would slowly moved in covering the sun. Every day there was the threat of rain and every day the sky cleared without follow through. Finally, on Sunday, the sky opened up we were in the midst of a classic pacific northwest rainstorm. If you have not experienced a storm like this, you should put it on your list of things to accomplish. The rain drops in the northwest seem bigger. The puddles seem wetter. The storms seem longer. It is one of the things I love. To sit and watch the rain fall. However, there is one small thing I would rather avoid when the rain comes, and that is driving. Driving in the rain scares me to death. I would rather do just about anything else. In fact, my friend and I have a running joke that I would rather drive in a blizzard, and she would rather drive in a down poor. While we laugh about this, there is a reason these things ring true in our lives.
My growing up years were spent high in the mountains of Idaho. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that beautiful community until I was an adult, but now I look back on that place with more than a fondness. I think it is the place my heart will forever call home. The summers are filled with fishing and camping and wildflowers. And the winters, the winters are filled with everything “snow.” It is not uncommon for my hometown to have 6ft of snow on the ground and another snow storm on the horizon. The days are short and the months are long, but the snow brings a sense of loveliness and quiet. I never once considered that some people may not relish the thought of driving in these conditions. After all, I spent more of my first year of driving, sliding on frozen roads than I did cruising on dry pavement. (There are great stories to be told about that first winter of me driving… maybe at another time.) However, this same friend in Portland cannot understand how I care to venture out in a snowstorm. When she comes to Idaho to visit me in the winter, I do all of the driving. Our differing life experiences have molded our perspectives on what is “normal” or “easy” or “better.” Two different lives, two different experiences, two different perspectives.
I feel that often in life when we encounter those with opinions that are different than our own, it is our immediate reaction to prove them wrong, to show that we are the ones who are right. We forget that people have had life experiences that have shaped who they have become. And while some of that perspective may alter their vantage point, there is great reason as to why they are where they are and why they think the way they think.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know ho to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6
My faith is deeply rooted. It IS so much of who I am. I see life through the lens of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I tackle problems and seek direction through the Word of God. I know where I find Truth. However, if my conversations with others (who have different life experiences) lack grace and true richness, there is nothing to be gained. If I cannot listen as well as I can speak then I have accomplished nothing.
So, for today I challenge you to consider what it is that shapes your perspective? Are these lenses healthy or unhealthy? Are there new lenses you could assimilate into your life, or are there lenses you need to shatter and dispose of? Finally, do you have an awareness of the things in life that shape OTHERS so that you can truly have grace and a sense of richness in your conversations?