There Are Two Lenses on Our Lives; Choose Well


Perspective matters.



Here’s what I’m not:

  • thin
  • brilliant
  • consistently disciplined
  • up to the minute on current affairs
  • a painter
  • coordinated
  • a fashion plate

This list could get long.  And if I took the time to fill it out thoroughly I’d be sabotaging my thesis statement before I get started.  Having already spit on the chief rule of journalism and buried my lead, let me italicize it lest it be lost in your horror over my shortcomings: “It’s a stinking waste of our lives if we live defined by what we are not, instead of living aware of the glory of what we are spiritually, and are meant to be in reality.”

Recently I read, in The Washington Post, two obituaries that depressed me.  One had this headline in the print edition: “Miss USA for a day had a steep fall from the top” and told the story of a beautiful young woman who was disqualified after winning Miss USA when it was found that she was not only under age but also a housewife with two children.  The obituary describes how that public humiliation went on to put the final nail in the coffin of an already tragic life, though that coffin lid seems to have been slammed down at 18 and she lived in it until the age of 71.

The other obituary that trumpeted failure was about Wes Santee, a runner who competed unsuccessfully with Roger Bannister to be the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes.  In the print version of the Post, which is gone with the recycling, the headline trumpeted his failure to do so.  The article went on to talk about primarily that failure, in spite of a life of relationships, other successes, and a running career to which most mortals could not even begin to aspire.

That got me thinking about what how we define ourselves.  And how outdated and inaccurate some of the definitions can be.  And how God sees us differently than we see ourselves.

Am I my regrets, or the sum of the realities that fuel them, or am I really someone new in Christ?  Answering that accurately determines the trajectory of my life.  And it’s never too late to reconsider.

In Romans 4:17, Paul is writing about our forefather Abraham and his deep faith, which made him righteous in God’s sight. He says Abraham’s faith was in “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

I love this spiritual reality, both parts of it.  God can give life to the dead, reviving a dead person and saying that she was only sleeping (Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5 and Luke 8).  How many people do we write off as dead who are merely sleeping and could wake up?   God calls things (and sees thing) that are not (looking so great) as though they were (beautiful). [Obviously I have added those parenthetical phrases.  We can call them “extra-biblical.”]

But really, it’s true.  Leona Gage was not a humiliated mess, though her life apparently played out that way.  Wes Santee was not “second best.”  I am not inferior because of all that I am not.

Everybody’s glorious, an individual manifestation of God’s image, never to be repeated in history.  Sometimes we have to remind each other, intervene and tell the truth, bear witness to a reality beyond what the facts and sorry pathways of our lives can call out.

Who needs to hear this today?


Yes, it does.




~ by Cary on November 18, 2010.

2 Responses to “There Are Two Lenses on Our Lives; Choose Well”

  1. I love that you are writing Cary. I have taped in my daytimer the following:
    “Make people feel great about who they are, never badly about who they are not”.

    My favorite line in your piece was that it is never too late to reconsider. We all need to make new God informed assessments! Even if it is sans Bill can I get y’all over here soon? Or after holidays? Blessings friend.

  2. You have a warmth, Laurel, that DOES make people feel great about who they are. So for that reason, we would of course love to see you, with or without dear Bill. 🙂

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