Church-Community Connection: Dirty windows can make a molehill into a mountain

One of the British national newspapers has been asking for comments about what it means to be British. So here is a statement from a chap in Switzerland who lived in Britain for 12 years.

“Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer and then traveling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign!”

Like the story above, we often see things the way we are rather than the way they are. We see things through our experiences, political views, biases, prejudices, nationalities, affiliations and the like. But what happens when we think we are seeing is not what we are seeing? What happens when we look at someone or something through those rose-colored glasses we all tend to have?

Let me illustrate. A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The following day while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean,” she said. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?” The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

It’s easy to turn a molehill into a mountain when our eye windows are dirty. It’s much easier to try and change everyone else when we are the ones that need changing. The problem with dirty windows is that we can become cynical and jaded. H. L. Mencken said, “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.” Dirty mental or emotional windows often end up hurting the critic more than the critiqued.

This illustration doesn’t mean that we throw away discernment or that everything we see is dirty. However, let’s examine ourselves first and ensure that the windows of our soul are clean enough to see others and our experiences clearly and nonjudgmentally.

The Bible gives us wisdom on this. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15. In other words, to the pure, everything is pure. To the impure, everything is impure. Herbert Samuel says, “The world is like a mirror. Frown at it, and it frowns at you. Smile at it, and it smiles, too.” We rarely see what we are not looking for.

So, here’s a question for you. When you open your eyes, what do you see? Here’s what one writer wrote. Maybe it could be you.

“You only need to open your eyes to see the handiwork of God. I don’t worship the stars, but they stir me to worship God. So likewise, I don’t worship humanity. But when I look around me at the people in my life, I am in awe of their vast array of gifts and talents. Seeing these people is so incredible that it provokes me to thank the Creator of Life.

I look around and see beauty in one place and deep sadness and grief in another. This causes me to stop and give thanks for my life, a life filled with hope, purpose and security when in pain. And my faith compels me to believe there is a future and a hope because the feeling of life and creation that I am surrounded by is not here by mistake but by glorious design.”

Let me guess what many of us are thinking. “That writer is not dealing with reality. There’s so much hurt in life. There’s so much injustice in the world. That person hasn’t experienced what I have. That person is sitting there doing nothing about all the problems we have in our world. They are so heavenly minded that they are not earthly good.”

The Bible says Jesus knew what was in human beings, but he wouldn’t let human stuff give him a dirty window to look through. Why? He had his Father’s eyes. He saw people and events the way God sees people and events. Jesus could separate the person from their issues and behaviors. Jesus’ perspective was, “Yes, it’s real, it’s messy, but that is why I came to earth. Let’s redeem it.”

Jesus understood the idea that, to the pure, all things are pure. If Jesus saw life through the dirty window of “wounded, bitter or cynical,” he wouldn’t have gone about doing good and helping all who were in need. A fruitful life sees the dirty window but is not paralyzed by the dirty window. I guarantee you will help more people, solve more problems and transform evil into good with an outlook like the writer in this article has. God designed heavenly good to make us earthly good.

When you open your eyes today, what do you see? Maybe it’s time to look at life like Jesus did, through grace-healed eyes. Then you will say, “Yes, I see the mess, but with God’s help, let’s turn the mess into a message.”