Today I was fortunate enough to hear a perspective in thought about how we may all perceive others as well as our own actions. It was a perspective of change, at least in the context of our very lack thereof. Which isn’t to say we are incapable of change, if we can visualize or realize the outcome expected we can contain some control over our expectations. Though, the very second, we no longer have or perceive control, we push away what we can’t have. We don’t have control over everything, and by this fact, we only exist in those comforts of control. We only stay around those people we feel most comfortable with, we only do those activities which provide a predictable outcome for us, or we only accept those things which seem to benefit us and then turn our back on those things which seemingly hurt us. This hurt is pain which comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes pain comes from growth, sometimes from loss, at other times pain can be a combination of both, but I think the most prevalent form of pain comes from the disparate expectation of results in our favor and then being disappointed. Our disappointment leads to a removal of situation and thus removing what is perceived to be the pain. This perception is somewhat counter-intuitive because when we seek to remove the pain in our lives we take out the most needed portion of control and in doing so we replace it with a mechanism of devilish design focused on our destruction. In Mark 9:40 Jesus states “For he that is not against us is for us”. For in these ten words, he describes pain and acceptance for those things which we can’t control, and at the same time those we deal with who represent a mountain of difference but a similarity in pursuit. Their journey is different to our own, but their goal is just like ours, God, of whom we all seek whether we realize it or not.
Earlier this week, my wife and I watched the public lynching of a person who by all objective standards was castigated because of his difference of perception to certain groups of individuals who disagreed with him which created an atmosphere of hysteria. These people because of their perception of “against” were willing to destroy a reputation of a good man, all because he didn’t do things the way they wanted. He didn’t agree with their points of view, and destruction, in their minds, was the only way to achieve victory. The real answer was never dialogue through argument and persuasion, only destruction through villainy and misdirection. The repercussions of their behavior to this person, are perceived to have long lasting effects which will disrupt the decision-making process for a generation. This was all achieved, because of their lack of focus on their own paradigms, their lack of work in their own fields, and the need to pawn the hard decisions on those few to find a villain when the time comes.
Ultimately, this is a perfect example of the for or against argument and existing paradigm in today’s world. We don’t need enemies, we don’t need turmoil, we need to step back and realize our way isn’t the only way in life. Our perceptions aren’t the only perceptions of life. Finally, we must do better and know, when it came to Jesus, we were either for or against him. When the Apostles were incredulous to the fact there were those driving out demons in the name of Christ, they wanted it to stop, because of the perceived unaffiliated association perceived to be with Jesus. Their perception was limited, and they walked with the Divine Christ, just imagine how limited our perceptions are of the people around us. Think of a time, when you may have felt threatened by someone new to the group, someone who received the attention you worked so hard for. Then when you were asked about how you liked this new person, you never said an untruth, but what you did may have been much worse. You, instead, didn’t give your endorsement, and this cause others to look down upon the new and ultimately reject them. To flip this around, the rejected may have been dumbfounded as to a reason they were rejected, especially since they were nice to everyone and there was seemingly no reason whatsoever to have been rejected. Do you think if they had an opportunity to speak with you to plead their case, they might have done so, especially knowing the power of persuasion you wielded? At the end of the day, accepting those who are different in ways of look, practice, or perception is the cornerstone of compassion. A compassion which simply stated wants and wills the good of the other. We all are created by God, and we must all realize, although another person doesn’t always fill a warm place in our heart, they are beloved by God, and are loved beyond measure by God.
My focus in life, is to be a faithful servant to God, be a good father and husband, and a desire to be a reflective light of Christ in all I do. This can be very difficult at times, especially when those results I seek, don’t seem to go my way, and instead I am challenged at every turn. I meet challenges when I go to the store and find people going too slow or walking down the middle of the aisle. There are those I work with, who at the very least, are argumentative to a fault and create strife because of their unhappiness. I even have strife in my own family, when I am confronted with a member who does not see faith or religion in the way I see it, and consternation ensues and creates tension because of a perceived ocean of difference between the details. However, everything is about perception, and with a proper perception, we can overcome it all. We can also realize, to be with God is the only “with” our concern should be focused on.
Did you know 99.999999% of the human body is empty space? The nucleus of an atom is very small in comparison to the atom. Which is to say, although we see our bodies as a solid mass of cells because we feel and look solid, but when seen through a microscope the very dimensions of what we see is exposed and there is a vast gulf between what we can see and what is there. This is better explained when the question is asked, “if there is so much space between the nucleus and the protons, electrons, and neutrons, then why can’t we float or walk through objects. Here is where the real perception comes in, because of those things we can’t see or know, or truly wrap our heads around, the space is full. The space is filled with undulating waves of quarks and gluons. This is to say, there’s a whole lot going on we just don’t know or fully understand why. However, the kinetic movement of the cells is very much needed to function. A perception of with or against is very much like this.
So often we act as if we are for change and for an understanding of the original and even the eccentric when it comes to those people who are around us. Though, if I’m being honest, I would have to say, I don’t deal with change or others very well at times. Those times when I don’t seem to connect with others or find a common ground, I’m more likely to push back and walk away. In other words, I create a perceived gulf and give what sounds like a logical argument for my distance and even adversarial relationship. However, if I’m willing to focus on the objective truth between myself and others, I will find I do more things to distance myself, due to inconsistent behavior than they do. In other words, they are more normal than me, and if there is an issue, it is probably more my responsibility to work on myself than the insistence of my forced perspective on them.
Time and again, I find with the context of morality, when I focus on a reality where I’m not the one with all the answers. I am willing to accept blame for my actions, I find a willingness and perhaps a zeal to be wrong as a matter of course to learn. However, when I find an honorability in ostracization, I find judgement in others as being against me, because “they’re doing everything wrong” and this doesn’t meet the plans I had, when deciding to control my life. This isn’t to say there haven’t been those people in my life, who above all else, were more selfish than myself, and their decisions were really a toxic portion of my life, there were, and those times led to worse times when I allowed the influence to sway the decisions I made. No, what I’m really referring to, is the comfortable times of mediocrity, where we find blame and fault in those who don’t do as we wish, but who aren’t wrong either.
I’ve always heard an expression of, “there’s always more than one way to skin a cat”, and yes, I realize if you’ve never heard this, then my hillbilly roots just came through loud and clear. Though, there is great wisdom in this expression, a fountain of knowledge which seeks the listener’s ability to forward think and realize a paradigm shift explaining a new perception of the same old argument. If there were only one way to do the activities we seek in life, then it would be fair to say, I would not be typing right now, and you would not be reading right now. All of us would have already embraced the traditions of old, and it would be more a question of “when?” than “why?”
If we embraced a fervor to accept different ways and methods of thought, then we would be inclined to trust those around us, and instead of a with or against argument, we might just have a when argument. Ideal as this sounds, we as human beings, would then force ourselves to create a new equilibrium dictating where the “for” or “against” lines should be drawn. If you doubt this, look at the laws of the last 100 years, and you will quickly begin to realize, there is a social movement in the perceptions of the laws and those who commit the illegal acts. There is a new sense of indignation when “offensive” remarks are made, but no real substance can be draw from the outrage when a proper perception of God is the focus. This is to say, if we exist on the very Hands of God, then we must begin to realize, it’s less about what we perceive, rather than what we give. It’s less about our honor or ego, and more about a humility to ask for the acceptance of another. Perpetually behaving as if the world owes us something, or our honor is never to be impugned sets us on a pathway which seeks the derision of our lives and breeds unjoyful disdain.
So, are you with me or against me? Question of the day; this is focus of our politics now, the focus of our world now, and frankly the focus of religion as well. As much as smart individuals want to embrace a grayish area of existence, a focused morality and decision-making process of good or bad should really be all the black and white we need. This is to say, if we are for one another, then the good wins this contest. If we aren’t consistent our acceptance, like it or not, the “against” will always win out. The gray area consists of the time we take to use our objective truths to answer these questions. Obviously the longer we take to answer the hard questions, the longer we stay in the gray, and the more comfortable ambiguity will become for each and everyone one of us. Maintaining an atmosphere of moral ambiguity allows us to embrace, perversion of perception and this fosters ambivalence towards others for failing to meet our expectations or requirements in an area we are neither an expert nor a proper judge. We aren’t an expert, because we assume there is only “our” way of doing things, and we are not a proper judge, because only a judge who bases their decision on an objective truth (e.g. rule of law) can make a fair decision to know and accept a truth larger than their perception.
Ok, so we mostly exist in the gray, but we desire to be in the white (or light as I like to think about it) and obviously the black is the darkness which threatens to consume us, by our own decisions and improper perceptions. I’ve written about the mediocrity of the age, whereby, we as a culture embrace the gray. We don’t wish to push past the difficult and really know the beauty of life, but instead we become lazy and wish to have others do the work for us, or at least make the hard decisions so we can blame them for our lot in life. When the truth of this comes to light, we don’t have the courage to admit we were cowards, and we didn’t do what was needed to really make a difference. This starts with an ability to acknowledge the differences in others and accept although they are different this doesn’t make them wrong.
Next time you feel the desire to push someone away, because they possess those personal, profession, or religious attributes which appear to be at odds with us. Remember, ours isn’t to push away, but instead, ours is to embrace with the Light of Christ at every chance possible. So, are you with me or against me? I hope you’re with me on this point. I am the guiltiest of pushing people out of something I held to be mine and mine alone. The shame I feel from this, creeps in on me from time-to-time, and I realize, my arrogance gave me the courage to act as if I was better and in doing so. I made another person feel unwanted and unloved, when I think on this long enough, I know it should have been me who was pushed for failing to recognize how wonderful those people were, in their own ways.
If you were able to make it this far, please think about your situations in life and how you could be/have been better and make those good decisions now. Root for the win, embrace all those who truly are with you in life, and find a reason to bring those who seem to be against you in to the fold as well. I hope and pray my words are an encouragement to you and your family. I pray God blesses you and your family.
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!