Observing the Lives of Others Gives us a Distorted View

distortedWhen we observe happy families we can easily become envious, yet we must remember everyone has invisible struggles.

“Do not consider his appearance or his height. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Once, a member of my book club told me that she envied me and wished she had my life.

Because of my health issues, my husband Norman has always been protective of me. She watched Norman drive me to and from book club. She saw us sitting together at church; when the kids were small, our family always sat together.

She never saw the hardship and struggle I faced as a wife and mother. She only saw me on the good days when I was able to leave home. She didn’t know my true story.

Her comments made me think about my own tendency to judge other people. I had a habit of forming an opinion about someone without ever considering what their lives entailed.

Illness slammed into me and forced me to alter my entire lifestyle. Suddenly, Iwas different, and my perspective changed immediately.

I felt condemned, especially when I got shunned. A lot of times, I eased into the bathroom to cry into a towel so that Norman and the kids wouldn’t know how troubled I really felt.

Whenever I look back, I thank God for that time of trial because I learned empathy. My unkind and harsh thoughts turned into prayers for the rude check out girl, the snippy nurse, or my angry neighbor.

Just like the people around me are unable to look at me and see I’m in pain, I don’t have the luxury of seeing inside another person’s heart or mind, to see what they are dealing with either.

Yes, I wish I lived without pain and illness each day. But I thank God for using my pain and limits as a way of allowing me to grow into a kinder and gentler person.

Prayer: Father, purify our hearts and motives. Help us relate to each other from a place of love and understanding. Use our suffering as a bridge of hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the Author:
Dorothea Love lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Norman. They are the parents of two adult children. She has lived with chronic illness and pain for over 30 years. She knows she must rely on
God’s grace to strengthen her whenever she faces a challenge. She invites you to read some of her other work on her blog: http://www.dorothealove.wordpress.com.

Do you observe other friend’s lives and wish you could exchange places? Do you feel envious when looking at people’s photos on social media? How do you keep it in perspective?

This is Tanner Clark singing “Cold Water.” The emotions of envy and resentment towards other’s blessings may be a natural part of our human nature, but it is the sinful part. Those feelings are not of God and we do need to take them to the Lord’s feet and ask for forgiveness. Otherwise they will control us. This song is a good reminder of taking it to Jesus so we can be set free. -Lisa

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