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Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't name before you truly see

"The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing."  (Pierre Bonnard)  I realize this quote comes from an artist who painted mostly from memory, photos, and sketches, but these words speak volumes about how we view things in life.  If we are so caught up in putting a "name" to everything and everyone we see, we often miss the unique beauty in the object or person.  The other problem with "naming" people is that we soon learn to think of them by that "title" we place over their lives and forget all the other characteristics they possess in their lives which actually are way more important than the one we seem to zero in on! If the title is "precious" or "beautiful", someone may not resist the "impression" that title conjures up in a person's mind.  If the title is "loser" or "nerd", that one may be a little harder to stomach!

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit.  This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.  (Galatians 5:25-26 VOICE)

We spend a whole lot of time and energy "putting names" to the behaviors we see exhibited in people's lives and a whole lot less time investing what it takes to help them overcome some of those "less desirable" behaviors they may be exhibiting.  There is no greater "limiting force" in life than to have a "title" hung over our heads which we simply cannot break free of because the stigma of that title stays with us forever.  In the simplest terms, a stigma is something which indicates our disgrace because of the title put on some behavior observed which "won" us that title in somebody's eyes.  If we place a "title" or stigma on someone's life, we are "marking" them for life - a mark which may not be all that flattering, uplifting, or kind.

As Bonnard implied, we lose the quality of truly "seeing" another for the beautiful creation they are.  Even the worst of individuals was created as a beautiful object of God's love.  It was the choices of the individual which allowed their character to be formed in such a way we might "find fault" with today, but even bad character in the hands of a merciful and loving God can be transformed.  As an example, a person may bumble along in life, doing a half-perfect job at whatever they are trying to do, but it doesn't define them as "incompetent" or "unknowing".  If we look at that individual from the eyes of criticism and mockery, we will only see the "bumbling ways" they exhibit - we miss the good in their lives.  Notice that I said they did a "half-perfect" job - meaning half of what they were able to do was really pretty good, while the other half just didn't measure up to some standard we hold in our eyes.  Does it make the individual any less valued because they didn't "measure up" to whatever standard we hold?  Nope!  It just might mean the standard was a little high for their present ability to perform!

To place a label of any type on another without truly understanding the places they have been, the things they have experienced, or the qualities / attributes truly buried deep in their hearts is to be narrow-minded and sometimes even cruel.  We would not want another to do the same "labeling" of our lives, or to gossip about what they have determined to be our inadequacies.  What we need more than anything is to "take in" the beauty buried just beneath the surface - the beauty God sees in each of us - as we were created, not as we have "become" through our actions and missteps.  In turn, we might just find ourselves "seeing" the individual through eyes of love, mercy, and grace.  When more of us begin to see through those remarkable lenses of love, mercy, and grace, the "bumblings" of another's life don't matter so much and the unity God desires begins to matter more.  Just sayin!