Building Up One AnotherJuly 29, 2015
We really do create our own realities. While we do not have control over the events and encounters that we experience in our lives, we certainly can, and do, control how we interpret and respond to them.
The ways in which we understand the circumstances of our lives and the logic that we employ as the motivation for our behavior are shaped by our view of the world. This is the lens through which we see what is happening, understand how things are joined together (or disconnected), and from which we derive meaning and purpose. These lenses are influenced by the development of our personalities, the social conditions in which we live, cultural currents, and those persons with whom we associate. These influences, while significant, do not rule us. Our worldview, perception and self-understanding are ultimately products of our personal choice.
If one is trusting, optimistic, open and hopeful, it is because one has chosen to see through lenses that help reveal the world in those ways. Similarly, if one is fearful, angry, resentful and self-centered, it is because they have chosen to interpret life through an oppressive and burdened perspective.
For those who believe that we are made in the image of God and have the opportunity to grow into the fullness of God, our worldview can be nothing other than positive and optimistic. I am not saying that we put on the proverbial “rose colored glasses” that distort our vision by artificially ignoring pain and injustice. But, rather, I am suggesting that we see through and beyond the bleakness of suffering and distress to appreciate our need for, and benefit from, our life together in community. We don’t need to grit our teeth and try to endure the passage of time and events. We need to understand that each moment is filled with incredible grace and potential, if we make the choice to look more deeply through the lens of faith.
When we put on this lens of faith, we understand that we should be preoccupied with building each other up rather than tearing others down, with intentionally seeking opportunities to find more and more commonalities that unite us as opposed to centering on artificial barriers that come between us, to consistently finding contributions to be praised rather than concentrating on fleeting and insignificant missteps.
Parents and educators have long learned that children will perform to the level of what is expected of them. It is no different with adults. If I expect you to fail, there is high likelihood that you will. Correspondingly, my belief in your potential and my expectations for your exceptional performance create the context that supports attainment of those highly set objectives.
St. Paul reminds us that we are to take on the mindset, the worldview of Christ –“heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another” (Col. 3:12-13).
Jerry Kearney, D.Min.
Vice President, Mission Integration
Saint Thomas Health