Harmful Perceptions and Mindsets

In Disney’s Pocahontas, when they sang, “They’re different from us, which means they can’t be trusted”, it was easy to see how self-righteous they were. I believe it was easier for viewers to see because we got to see both sides.

We got a glimpse into how both sides lived and thought and had a picture that was more broad. From what I can see, the sentiment from that song has permeated a good deal of people in America.

On one hand, we say we love freedom and free speech, but the moment someone says something in opposition to the narrative we have chosen to believe, we damn them. They are wrong, we are right. We condemn what we don’t understand and label people accordingly. We call them hateful names, believe them to be deceived and worse, all while missing the venom spewing from our very pores. All this, because we don’t understand their point of view. How childish… How self-righteous… How, narcissistic.

Our thinking and comprehension is finite. We have little more than tunnel vision when it comes to many things. We need each other to see things more clearly. We need God. In some instances, we seem to be able to face this fact, but the idea that someone you don’t understand is suddenly deemed whatever horrible label you want to assign to them, is sheer lunacy. Just say you don’t understand! You know your side, how about you listen to another side? You just might learn something.

People’s hearts are so wounded. It grieves me to witness the horrific things that come out of those I previously thought were mature, balanced, and kind. I am even more amazed as I see that they are completely blinded to their hatred. It is true that when pressure is applied in one’s life, what’s inside comes out. For some, it is a shining moment, where obvious inner beauty shines forth as with diamonds that have endured tremendous pressure. For others, what comes forth is simply rancid and ugly.

My prayer today is that we can all learn to look inward. As I type, Michael Jackson’s Man In the Mirror plays in my mind. We truly need to be the change we wish to see. Many of us have heard that often, but how many of us actually live like that? If you have hatred and are holding grudges, spewing all forms of malice in anyone’s direction, you are bound and only hurting and deceiving yourself. Galations 5:1 in The Passion Translation reads, “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free– not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”

If you see yourself still bound, still as a victim, still being oppressed and depressed by some elusive other, you won’t experience the freedom Jesus died and paid for. As long as you see yourself this way, yeah, you are oppressed. You need little help from anyone else to keep you that way too. You do it yourself just by your thinking. You turn your back on what the Word of God says, in favor of… what? As my dad, Russ would say, “How’s that been working for ya?” We have to stop putting all the focus on some elusive other, look inward, get real with what’s there, and seek to heal. Famous Actor Denzel Washington said, “We can’t blame the system. It starts at home. By the time the system is involved, it’s already too late.”

Truly, it starts with that “Man In the Mirror”. As long as we are looking outward for others to fix our issues, we will only be as good as they are to us, moment by moment. I don’t know about you. You are free to do what you want, but I am not set up for that kind of bondage. I am free.

Who Do YOU Think You Are?

Romans 6 is filled with how God sees you as a believer.  It says you are dead to sin, and alive in Christ. You are joined with Christ in baptism. You can live new a life. Death has no power over you. You live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 7 says you are no longer bound by the law, struggling with sin. Romans 8 calls you more than conquerors. Other verses call you a royal priesthood, the very son or daughter of God almighty. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  You are deeply loved and on and on and on.

As one who encourages and ministers to others regularly, I don’t find it particularly hard to see the gold in others.  God has enabled me to see others as he sees them and be able to help them to see it too. As easy as it is to encourage and uplift others, I am finding that, in some ways, I have neglected to see myself in a proper light.  I noticed a few days ago that on several occasions I have said something about myself that simply is no longer true of my character.

I grew up in a single parent household, my mom’s only child.  As such, when kids tried to back me up against the wall and bully me, I came out fighting, and fighting hard.  I was always known as nice and sweet but I was also eventually known as one to not mess with as word of my completely out of control behavior spread.  It took a long while for me to get angry, but once I was, it would be as if I was taken over by someone completely different and completely unpredictable.  I am no longer that person.  I have not behaved in that way in over 23 years, yet I find that I still feel as if I am not far from that unpredictable, uncontrollable person at times and recently, I have referred to myself as that person.

Thank God for revelation!  I feel that He is patiently making His rounds throughout various areas in my life where a complete overhaul is needed in my mind and I am so grateful for it. The thing is, because, in those moments in my past, I seemed to be capable of things I never thought possible, getting angry like that today is kind of scary to consider. Here’s the thing though… God has helped me to develop a level of patience that I must say, I don’t see in many at all.  Also, God has changed how I see, so things that once would have upset me fairly quickly, just don’t.  For most women, messing with their children is a big no-no.  A man was recently openly ogling my 13 year old daughter in a very lecherous manner.  This was something that could easily set me off instantaneously.  What happened floored me though.  Not only did I not get angry, but two things happened. First, I positioned myself so that the man saw and knew that I caught his nasty looks.  I simply stared at him unflinchingly. This made him super uncomfortable.  Then I told him that yes, I saw him and from that moment, until he left, he seemed to be unable to stop himself from looking back at me and my gaze never left him until he was gone.  I effectively protected my child without acting like a fool in a public place.  The second thing caught me off guard.  I actually felt a sense of compassion for the guy.  Although I didn’t go and prophesy over him while there, (baby steps… gotta start somewhere, lol) I did feel for him and I began to see who God created him to be; a man of purity and righteousness.  God has changed my mind and how I respond to the unlovely things of this world.

This makes me realize more than ever that if He sees me as good, why don’t I?  Why am I still holding myself to past behaviors, mistakes and mindsets when He has obviously done so much mind renewal in my life?  I am now making a concerted effort to agree with my Abba about who I am.  What about you?  How do you see yourself?  Does it conflict with what God says about you?  Who will you choose to believe?