My pastor recently shared a story from a mission trip to Guatemala. The group had decided to tell their personal stories of accepting Jesus to the local children in hopes of inspiring them to do the same. As they began sharing their stories with each other, a teenager with them brought instant clarity, saying “I thought I was saved when Jesus died on the cross.” That simple shift of perspective, away from our actions and toward God’s, is profound.
It seems to be human nature to make ourselves the center of the universe, even when we’re specifically focusing on others. It’s easy to point to biology and evolution and the need for focus on individual survival behind this phenomenon. Christianity simply labels it sin…either way, the net effect is the same. For my part, I’ve learned that my relationships suffer when I focus one sided, on me, but they flourish when I manage a healthy balance on both parties. I know this, yet I somehow regularly “forget”. It is a constant battle to push myself out of the center of the universe.
At least for me, I fight this battle the hardest when I feel misunderstood. We all know our underlying intentions, and we’re wounded when others don’t see them as we feel them. I need to continue working on how others perceive me, but I think I can also move the needle by flipping that perspective and working on how I perceive others. I just found this quote from one of my favorite philosophers…it has given me a new personal goal.
“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing–that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” –Fred (“Mr.”) Rogers