Singlehandedly, one of the hardest lessons I have to teach my children is to think outside of themselves and their wants, desires, likes, dislikes and emotions in general. More fights happen in this house because one wants what the other has, one doesn’t like what the other has to say, or because one doesn’t get what he or she thinks is fair (or the Party B doesn’t get what Part A thinks he or she deserves).
My brain works strangely sometimes. I got an e-mail from our local art museum reminding me that the exhibit with “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” is coming to an end soon. For those who are unfamiliar with the piece (as I was at the beginning of the summer), it is often called “The Dutch Mona Lisa.”
That’s where my brain shifted gears to “The Mona Lisa.” There’s a lot of mystery around the lovely lady. What is the setting? Who was the model? What is she smiling about? Is it a self-portrait of Leo himself? And here’s a new one I just learned about yesterday…Did DaVinci paint eyebrows and eyelashes on her? There is a researcher who found a single brush stroke of a single hair in an eyebrow. (Obsess much?!)
The answers to those questions are as varied as the questions themselves. Everyone sees a different Italian town and has a different person in mind as the model. Some people see a beautiful smile, some a smug grin, some a coy “come hither” look and some say her mouth is lopsided. Dont’ even get me started on the question about why ANYONE has eyebrows! (Ok, I made that last one up.)
My point is that all those answers exist because everyone is seeing Lisa under their own lens. Their life experiences, their current mood, the lighting in the room and the angle they view her from all impact what they see. Do any of those factors change anything about the picture itself? No. Mona Lisa’s smile will not change just because we tell her a joke. I would be willing to bet that if one viewed the masterpiece when they were giddy in love (as so often happens in France) and then viewed it again after a devastatingly emotional blow (as so often happens in France), they would see two entirely different women.
Very similar to my children wouldn’t you say? They see life according to their own desires, needs, emotions and their own concept of “fair.”
Philippians 2:3 & 4
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others.
Life sometimes comes down to perspectives. What my best friend sees in me is completely different than what the PTA board, my pastor, a person I just met, and my husband see in me. What I see in others is colored by my environment, my experiences, and even my temperament for that day. But maybe the biggest impact comes from our motivation. What are we trying to see in someone else? If I want to be mad at my hubby, I will see everything that didn’t get the attention I think it deserved. If I want to be at peace with him, I will see all the little favors he has done for me that I didn’t even ask him to do.
God asks us to step outside of ourselves all together. “It’s not you, it’s Me!” I have been struggling with preparations for a class I am teaching because I am worried about questions like, “Will I get my point across? Will people enjoy my teaching style? Will there even be anyone there?!” But those are all questions about me. And that’s not the point!
Will God be seen in this class? Will people learn to love His Word? Will a passion to live in God’s will grow in our church?
As I teach my children to look outside of themselves, will they learn to value other people’s feelings and wants as highly as they regard their own? Will they learn to put themselves aside for the peace of another person? Will they humble themselves to help their enemy?
Better question: Am I modeling it for them?
Come with me. Let’s take it outside.