I often wonder why it is that I can see so clearly the flaws and blemishes of others, yet rarely see them in myself. My own inadequacies shape my worldview, particularly as it relates to how I view others. Am I mistrusting? Maybe the lack of trust is more about me. Do I look upon others with a lack of hope and optimism? Maybe it is the fear of my own failure that I despise.
Thomas Merton said it best,
They want me to be what I am in their sight: that is, an extension of themselves. They do not realize that if I am fully myself, my life will become the completion and the fulfillment of their own, but that if I merely live as their shadow, I will serve only to remind them of their own unfulfillment.
“Do others merely live as our shadow?”
We must dig deep into the interior of our own lives and motives. Who are we? Why do we look at others the way we do? These questions and many more call me to not only dig deeper inside myself, but they also encourage me to speak words of life to others, especially to those I have influence over. Is it possible that if we build healthy spirits in our children, our spouses, and our loved ones that it will affect how they view others? Can our encouragement have influence beyond the walls of our home? If my family is filled with a clear understanding of who they are in Christ, won’t they find the ‘completion of self’ Merton speaks of? Won’t they view others not from the shadows of their fear, but from the fullness of grace?
Kathryn Stockett, in her book The Help, reflects this through a beautiful interaction between the house maid Aibileen and the white child she cares for, Mae Mobley Leefolt;
I touch her cheek. “You alright, baby?” She say, “Mae Mo bad.” The way she say it, like it’s a fact, make my insides hurt. “Mae Mobley,” I say cause I got a notion to try something. “You a smart girl?” She just look at me, like she don’t know. “You a smart girl,” I say again. She say, “Mae Mo smart.” I say, “You a kind little girl?” She just look at me. She two years old. She don’t know
what she is yet. I say, “You a kind girl,” and she nod, repeat it back to me. But before I can do another one, she get up and chase that poor dog around the yard and laugh and that’s when I get to wondering, what would happen if I told her she something good, ever day? She turn from the birdbath and smile and holler, “Hi, Aibee. I love you, Aibee,” and I feel a tickly feeling, soft like the flap a butterfly wings, watching her play out there. The way I used to feel watching Treelore. And that makes me kind a sad, memoring. After while, Mae Mobley come over and press her cheek up to mine and just hold it there, like she know I be hurting. I hold her tight, whisper, “You a smart girl. You a kind girl, Mae Mobley. You hear me?” And I keep saying it till she repeat it back to me.
As for me, I will speak words of life and encouragement. I hope it will shape my view of others. I hope it will shape my children’s view of the world.