We are in the midst of talking about how we can see people for who they really are, not who we assume them to be. If you missed last week’s blog post, go back and read that first (Perspective). Last week we talked about the fact that in order to see people more clearly, you have to pause and try to see things from their perspective. You have to examine your heart, ask questions to seek understanding and ask yourself the question, “Could I be wrong?”
After seeking perspective, I then have to remind myself that we are all image bearers of God. We have all been made in the image of God. We don’t have to look far in the bible to learn this truth. Genesis 1:26 tells us that “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’” We are ALL created in the image of God. We ALL possess different parts of God’s character. Even knowing that, this is a truth I find easy to talk about and a hard concept to truly live out.
This fall, my daughter Piper was really struggling with a particular friend. She would come home every day talking about this friend and how much she didn’t like her. It seemed to consume her. That was all she talked about. We tried everything. We prayed for this friend (Piper wouldn’t, so I did). We prayed that Piper would have a soft heart towards this friend. We talked about strategies about how to deal with this friend. We talked about ignoring her, we did it all. I was really frustrated about this situation one day. I decided to take her out to coffee, I do much better thinking and communicating at a coffee shop. She reluctantly went. She knew why we were going.
The whole time she slumped down in her chair and a few times she rolled her eyes. I pretended that wasn’t happening and continued on. I asked her, “Piper, do you know what it means that we are all created in the image of God?” She rolled her eyes once more and slumped a little lower. I continued “It means that EVERYONE in the whole world was made by God. Because of that no matter how bad someone is or no matter how much we don’t like them, they have pieces of God in them. It’s like you and Cole. Because Daddy and I are your parents, you and Cole have certain parts of us in you. You look like us and you tend to act and think in similar ways that we do. Because God made us, all of us have unique parts of God in us. Like you, Piper, you are strong, creative, bold and persistent – those are characteristics that God has too. He gave those to you so that you could represent those pieces of who God is to other people.” Your friend has pieces of God in her too.
We all have pieces of God in us. Sometimes they are a little harder to find. After I shared that with Piper, I had her write down 5 things that she liked about her friend. At first she couldn’t come up with any. Then we found a few superficial ones-like her eyes, nose or hair. Over time our list continued to grow and I’m proud to report that today they are friends once again.
I have been so grateful in my life for the people that have taken the time to see pieces of God in me. I lived under the shadow of trauma for so long. At times it was hard to see those pieces. But I am grateful for the people along the way that stopped to find those pieces and call them back to the surface. When I came across as harsh, I was reminded that I have been called to speak truth – in love. When I’m impatient and I don’t want to wait on God, I have been reminded that God has plans for me in his time and he was the one that created me to run – when he says go. When I react out of judgement, I have been reminded that I do have a good sense of discernment -but there is a time and place. Over time, with enough reminders, pieces of God in me started to emerge.
And you know why people were able to see those pieces of God in the first place? Because they stopped. When they found themselves reacting to me out of frustration, judgement or assumptions – they asked me questions. They asked about my day and my week. They asked my story. They sought to understand. And when they did that, they had a much more clear picture of who I really was. They saw the pieces of God in me. They called those pieces back to the surface and reminded me of who I was created to be. Without those people, I would not be sharing with you today.
So friends, who are you struggling with? Is it your spouse? Your co-worker? Your brother? Your neighbor? Who do you see with a smudged lens?
My guess is that it doesn’t take long to bring that person to mind. Once you have, it’s time for a little cleaning. Start by taking a pause. Evaluate your heart, sit back and seek the big picture. Seek perspective. Look for pieces of God in them, no matter how hard it may seem to be to find them. Call those pieces back to the surface and then remind them of who they are over and over and over again. It may take awhile for those pieces to emerge, but I have a feeling that once they do, what you see will look a whole lot different…
My guess is that they will look a lot more like Jesus to you.