We Teach Others How to See Us.
When I hear stories of the Prisoners of War who tell jokes to each other to keep up morale or Paul and Silas who sang songs of praise while in the Roman prison, I'm struck by the brute force of their will to shape perception — both their perception of their own circumstances and our perception of them. Joy in trails is not our default human reaction, however, those who, with great strength of will, choose joy, end up bending the perception of all who hear their story.
It reveals an obvious but understated truth: what we identify with is what others will identify us with. If we identify with our pain, our negativity, our heartache or our trials, others will see us through those things. On the other hand, if we identify with our blessings, our optimism, our joy and our victories, we'll teach people to see us through that lens instead.
Yesterday, I was listening to a wonderful episode of Branden Harvey's new podcast, Sounds Good, with Ruthie Lindsey. She's an incredible stylist based out of Nashville, but what really drew me to her was the joy that exuded from her. And though I didn't see her face, simply the way that she spoke brought a smile to my mine. As I listened to her story, she told of all of the suffering that she had experienced and I couldn't help but be in awe of the beauty of her spirit. She didn't revel in her pain or play the sympathy card... she rose above it and chose joy. Branden who had known her for years even admitted to having forgotten that she lived in a state of chronic pain because she never let her pain control who she was.
I think it's far too easy to let the little inconveniences of life get under our skin until the itch of aggravation has commandeered our spirit. Even today, I found myself annoyed at the slightest inconveniences and, I'm sorry to admit, I let it control my outlook and my attitude.
Despite the crap that life throws our way, when it comes down to it, we're the only ones responsible for how others see us. Do we choose to be joyful? Do we choose to love? Perhaps it's time.