“The OBSCURE we will ultimately stumble upon and discover sooner or later. The OBVIOUS we may overlook forever.”
I heard someone say this many years ago and have wondered about its meaning ever since. Now I think I understand.
While boiling potatoes, I searched frantically for our white handled potato masher. It was nowhere to be found. I looked in places it could not possibly be. I was sure it was not in its proper place. How could it just disappear? I decided to give the drawer where it was supposed to be one more look. This time, I looked for the wavy metal end of the masher instead of the white handle. There it was in the middle of the drawer sporting its own black handle.
At that moment, the penny dropped and I understood my problem – no, our problem. We all see what we are looking for. We all have our own unique “separate reality.” Reality to each of us is based on how we think and process our world and circumstances. Our reality was shaped by how we were born, where we lived, what we were taught, what we experienced, how we were loved, how we received love, etc. No human being will see life exactly the same way I do. No two of us will ever see eye-to-eye on everything. Because we are so different, it should shock us if we ever see anything the same way.
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Most of us experience relationship problems because of our separate realities. I may be looking for a white handle, while you in reality are searching for a black handle. I’ve missed the real you. I only saw what I was looking to see and not how you really are. This is why most marriages struggle. We only see what we are looking to see and fail to see people for who they really are.
Our separate reality is developed by what we have been taught, observed, studied and our life experiences. It is like a filter. Certain beliefs flow through unhindered, while other beliefs are filtered out and rejected. Nowhere is this more true than in our relationship with God. Every one of us has a piece of the truth, but no one except God has the whole truth. Each of us sees a particular facet of a diamond, but no one is able to behold the entire diamond.
When we read the Bible, we see what we are looking for. If tragedy struck your life at some point and God did not prevent it, your reality may be that God is not kind or caring. You will see that kind of God in every verse you read.
If you are not willing to open your mind and view life and God from a different perspective, you will be doomed to live in a rut the rest of your life. Ask God to check your filter. Ask him to clean yours out. Or ask Him to give you a new filter based on His truth instead of yours.
God had to change my filter in 2007. I was taught God expected perfection and He sent people to hell who did not achieve it. I thought God’s favor was attained through rigorous obedience to the law. Be good or be gone. Get right or get left behind. That was my separate reality. I saw that mean God on every page of the Bible. But one day, God’s grace shattered my filter. I saw Him in a new light.
Before that day, I believed God demanded me to love Him with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself. I had a hard time. I didn’t love God because I believed I could never live up to His standards, and I always thought He was disappointed in me. I did not feel worthy of His love. I loathed myself for being a failure, which made loving my neighbor an impossibility. That was my reality. I was miserable.
One day, God opened my eyes. He showed me this verse: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He love us and sent His Son to be the payment for our sin. We love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:10 and 19) I understood I had it backward all these years. I believed God needed me to be perfect when it was God who simply needed me to trust Him so I could be.
That day, my life changed forever. I started looking at life from God’s perspective, not mine, from His view down to me, not from my view up to Him.
I found both God and the potato masher because I started looking for them both from a different direction.
We all have a piece of the truth, but we will never have His peace until we see Him as He is – OBVIOUSLY.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey at Lake Wylie, which now meets at Pine Grove Baptist Church. Visit thejourneyatlakewylie.com for more information.