Monday, July 2, 2007

Grace Happening People - "C" Stands for Christ in Others

June 30, 2007

This is the fourth installment of a twelve-week summer series based on the anagram “GRACE HAPPENS,” each letter representing a quality that equips us to be “Grace Happening People.”

“C” is for Christ:
Grace Happening People See Christ in Others.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

I have always been intrigued and inspired by the life and ministry of Mother Teresa. When asked how it was that she could minister, day in and day out, to the dying and destitute, she replied that she simply would seek to see Christ in each individual she ministered to. It was this ability to see Christ in others that gave her the strength to minister in the worst of conditions to those suffering from the worst of what life has to offer. Her unique “vision” called forth her deep, Christ-like capacity for compassion.

As a therapist, I embrace another unique viewpoint that sharpens my ability to see with the eyes of compassion. John Bradshaw made popular the theory that we each possess an “inner child,” that part of us that came into this world innocent and bursting with potential. But growing up in an imperfect world, we all are spiritually and emotionally wounded along the way, causing us to lose sight of the person God created us to be. If we take God at his word—that we are created in God’s image—then our view of ourselves and others should reflect this.

In therapy, I strive to help clients reconnect with this creative, resourceful, Christ-like part of themselves. Buried beneath woundedness and sin, shame and regrets, fear and loneliness is a unique and precious individual that I seek to “see.” I can be much more compassionate and patient with difficult people (whether they are family, friends or clients!) if I remember that they too, like me, are wounded yet wonderful children, deeply loved and cherished by our Maker.

This comes fairly easy for me—except when someone rubs me the wrong way or pushes my buttons. I can rally compassion for misguided, brainwashed young men and forgive them for their terrorist activities (although this might change if one of my own loved ones was a direct victim). I can pardon one who has sinned against me (especially if she’s confessed, shown deep remorse, and groveled for my forgiveness—and I’ve nursed my grievances to my satisfaction). I am long-suffering and patient with those less fortunate than me (but my tolerance and dedication are inversely related to a rise in temperature, humidity, hunger, boredom, fatigue…). I hate to admit that there are so many limits to my ability to see the imprint of God in others—but it’s true.

Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23) Sometimes my spiritual eyesight is 20/20, but more often than not, my vision is impaired by a myriad of complicated and complex factors. I need special lenses to help me see Christ in others: lenses that filter out my sense of entitlement and air of superiority; lenses immune to the smudges of gossip and the scratches of hurt feelings; crystal clear lenses that are neither rose-colored (an unwillingness to see reality, preferring my own close-minded slant) or tinged green from envy, darkened by a negative attitude or clouded by poor judgment.

This week I hope you will join me in paying attention to which lenses you are wearing—you may switch them numerous times a day, depending on the circumstances—and make a conscious effort to slip off the distorting lenses and don the eyes of our Creator.


Jean T. said...

Linda, I've gleaned a lot from your 4 articles on "Grace Happening People". I especially like the image of changing lens so we can see like Christ.

natureofgrace said...

Thanks, Jean! Keeping reading. Blessings, Linda