by Don Schmidt
Beware the Mirror was first posted on GreatFamlies.net on May 16, 2020.
Have you noticed how easy it is to see the (apparent) faults of others while missing those same qualities in ourselves?
Yes, I am speaking from personal experience. And yes, I do have something specific in mind. But no, I won’t use this forum as a place to share the most recent example of that in my life.
One of the things that frustrates me is when others don’t get it. Or maybe more to the point, when others don’t get me. This happens when I have shared my opinions, my perspectives, my ideas regarding how something ought to be handled, and the person I am talking to listens politely and then proceeds to do something entirely different from what I suggested.
In many of those situations there is something inside of me that wants to say, “If you had half a clue you would have known that my suggestion was far better than the plan you decided to go with.” (Actually, that’s a filtered and sanitized version of the thoughts that have gone through my mind.)
But then, at least in my finer moments, there is a quiet voice in my head that reminds me of just how arrogant my thinking is in that moment. Sometimes the voice may remind me of how often I press forward with what I want to do without heeding the counsel of others. But oftentimes the voice points out how arrogant it is for me to assume that my perspective on the current situation is somehow inherently better than the other person’s perspective on the situation.
Something I’ve noticed is that my ability to hear that quiet voice is largely dependent on how strongly I feel about the situation. The more my own emotions have been triggered, the more worked up I have become about a particular topic, the harder it is for me to maintain a posture of humility and openness to what others think and feel about that topic.
You’ve probably observed this happening in the current conversations surrounding the COVID-19 restrictions. A lot of people have a lot of opinions and many of them feel rather strongly about their opinions. Or if you spend any time on social media, this way of responding to other is common. And if you are married or have children, then you’ve experienced this in your own home.
So what do you do about it?
I once heard Dr. Gary Chapman (author of the Five Love Languages) speaking on marriage and he made this comment: If you are married, you know that one thing is true … you are married to another human. And if you are married to another human, then you can expect that your spouse will see things and think about things and feel about things in ways that are different from how you see and think and feel about the same things.
For me it comes down to respect and acceptance. Do I respect this other person enough to let them be who they are, to have their own opinions and even to decide what seems best to them, particularly in those areas where I think they are mistaken, uninformed or even wrong? And am I willing to accept them, which means to love them and be kind to them (even behind their backs) in spite of our differences?
That’s where the quiet voice in my head invites me to land. But it often begins with the humility of recognizing that these things I find frustrating in others are often a mirror to help me recognize those same realities in my own life.
James 1:22-24 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Don Schmidt is a husband, father, grandfather, pastor, counselor and friend. He currently serves as the Pastor for Family Ministries at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He also serves as the Executive Director for Great Families of the Triad.