I listened to a conversation this week where the person told another, to their face, that they hated them. “I hated you when you left,” they said. “It took a long time to not hate you anymore.” It was an honest and startling admission. Most times people are adept at not showing the person they hate their true feelings.
It left me with a question; “Have I ever, in my life, hated someone?” I define hate; as the inability to see the good in someone. As I reflected on the question a person came to mind. If I’ve ever hated someone, according to my definition, this man fit the criteria. I had the hardest time seeing the good, the light, the benefit of his existence, the unique expression of God in him. It was, at times, impossible to not be suspicious of his motives, think of the worst outcome of his decisions, belittle his beliefs and talents. Then, one day, ranting in my head about something he had done the question came from out of the blue; “Can you see any good in this man?” My mind stopped dead in its tracks. The answer was “no, I couldn’t.” It was then I realized the problem wasn’t him it was me.
I’d love to post about how this moment fixed everything but it didn’t. However, it did give me a new way of looking at this person and my role in the frustration, anxiety, and chaos within me. It took me a long time to forgive the hurt and betrayal he had caused but I began focusing on what was going on inside of me instead of what someone was doing on the outside. This made all the difference.
“You will never see God until you can see Him in every next face you see.” #SaintMotherTeresa
Fried Egg –
Someone asked me this morning if I knew how to fry an egg? I looked at them as if they were asking me to design a space ship capable of light speed. There are a few things I do well but cooking is not one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I think I could fry an egg, cook a simple dish if I tried with instructions and probably an instructor standing by. Cooking is just something I’ve never put my mind to, took the time to learn and put into practice.
I also can’t sing. I can follow along with the singers but am tone-deaf. Every note I sing and hear sounds the same. I used to be bothered by not being able to sing. I remember complaining about it one day and the question was asked; “Which of your other gifts, talents, would you give up to be able to sing?” In that moment I realized my desire to sing was ego running amok. The gifts I do have I try to use for good and after a reflective few moments, my answer was; “None. I wouldn’t give up any of the unique talents which make me who I am for any other.” Since then I’ve never desired a beautiful singing voice.
We are all who God has made us to be and our dissatisfaction in the gifts, talents God has given us is not because God short-changed us but because we are short-changing ourselves.
This afternoon my wife was painting some wood for an outdoor project we’re trying to finish before it turns cold and stays that way. She had completed one side and was waiting for it to dry. She began helping me and, of course, took longer than expected. When she got back to her part of the project she discovered a bird had relieved itself on her recently white-painted board! She began looking around and said loudly; “A bird pooped on my board!” It was funny but I dared not laugh while she was looking at me. We glanced up into the trees above but no culprit was located. Finally, she went inside, dampened a paper towel, came back outside and cleaned it. Luckily, for any birds that were in the area, none dared soil her board again!
Life can be challenging. Often things we value, have put a lot of effort into, protected and cared for are spoiled by unseen and unexpected difficulties and problems. Relationships, family, friends, vocations, talents, hobbies and more are treasured by us but it doesn’t take long before the world attempts to spoil them.
When the spoiling occurs we have a few choices; look for someone or something to blame, complain and become bitter, let go of the frustration and do our best to make the best of it.
Wisdom tells us; “It only matters when one falls if they refuse to get back up again.”
I was talking with a staff member today about how expensive the dentist can be when you need them. Loans and payment plans are often required when you have a major procedure.
My co-worker then shared with me a free service offered by dentists, doctors and optometrists to those who can’t afford services, lack insurance or both. These professionals come to a city, set up their equipment and for several days help as many folks as possible. It is not unheard of for people to get in line for these free resources hours or days before the service times begin.
Most of us aren’t doctors, dentists and optometrists but we each have gifts to offer, talents to enact, service to give. The key is focusing on who you are, what you can do. There are hurting ones all around us and if we see ourselves as having gifts to give then perhaps our eyes will be opened to those who are in need.
This morning I had a presentation in Nashville, TN. I left with plenty of time to spare, didn’t encounter any wrecks, traffic jams, everything went smoothly and I arrived early. I took my time getting out of the truck, making sure everything needed was in my bag and headed into the lobby. Once inside there was a line to the receptionist and waiting patiently it finally became my time to ask where the room I was looking for was located. I said; “Good morning,” and then asked for directions. A confused look came over her face and I quickly figured out I was in the wrong place. Not just the wrong lobby, but the wrong street and the wrong section of town. I scurried outside, hopped back in the truck and discovered my mistake. I had put the wrong street in the GPS. I double checked my calendar, typed in the correct address and it was fifteen miles away! Yikes! I called my co-presenter and told her what happened and I would be there as fast as possible. After arriving again, this time at the right building, I hurried in. I was only ten minutes late but it felt much longer. My co-presenter began her section of the program and I took several deep breaths trying to center myself. When it was my turn I spoke to the group about fathers, everything went fine and I was thankful to actually be where I belonged.
Wisdom teaches us that we have ideas and certainties of where we need to go on the road of life. We look at our gifts and talents and assure ourselves who, where and what we are meant to be. However, we are often not the best judge of where our lives can be used best. To be centered, to hold our dreams and desires loosely and allow the path of life to unfold, to be led not where we think we need to go but where we actually belong.