Only a couple of weeks ago my mom came down from Arkansas for a visit and we made the spontaneous decision to go out of town to take the kids, along with a cousin to see a Christmas movie. My mom took the kids to see the movie while Chapel and I strolled the mall and finished up some Christmas shopping.
As it neared time for the movie to be over I made my way to the food court and grabbed Chapel and I something to eat while waiting on Grandmother and the kids to come out of the theater. The mall was full of the bustle of the holidays and the only table I could find available had two empty seats, but was smashed up against a line of tables that was full of what looked like some sisters or friends and their children. I was probably within arm’s reach of the lady at the neighboring table and what looked like an approximate 3 year old little girl, who apparently was her daughter.
I began handing Chapel her waffle fries and she kicked her legs with excitement. This chick loves her some fries. A rather loud conversation began to unfold at the table next to mine between the mama and her little girl.
The girl must not be the fastest eater on the planet and her mom persisted to scold her for not chewing and swallowing faster.
“We have to go!! Chew…now swallow!! SWALLOW!! …”
“EAT YOUR FOOD!”
“CHEW YOUR FOOD!! UGH…”
“WHY WON’T YOU EAT YOUR FOOD!? I’M NOT WAITING HERE ALL DAY!”
I could relate. I’ve had several very slow eaters. I remember begging Isaac to swallow his food and he would just pack more and more of it into his cheeks like a chipmunk but seemed to never want to swallow.
To my right sat Chapel, who was still ever so slowly working on her first couple of bites of the waffle fry I’d probably handed her five minutes before. She is our slowest eater ever, by any estimate.
But nothing could prepare me for what the lady told her little girl next.
“Ugh…I’m just going to take you outside of an orphanage and LEAVE you there!!”
I was speechless. Blown away. Infuriated even. Should I say something? What should I do? I wanted to tell the lady that if she wanted to leave her daughter somewhere because she wouldn’t eat fast enough, please let me know where and I’d be sure to be there to pick her up and care for her. I wanted to tell her that she had no idea what she was talking about! If this woman only knew the trauma we had spent years and years trying to undo, caused by abandonment and orphanage life in general. How could someone say something like this?
And then I realized the irony of the entire situation. Here I sat within arms reach of a woman and her daughter who appeared to be about three. I sat with my three year old daughter. My daughter was eating far slower than her daughter could’ve dreamed of eating. My daughter weighs 24 pounds and this last 10 lbs has taken a year to gain. My daughter appeared to be a good two years younger than the girl being scolded for eating slowly, although they were likely the same age. My daughter just learned how to chew a year ago. The fact that she’s sitting beside me holding food and feeding herself is nothing short of a miracle! My daughter was left outside of an orphanage. I guess I could scold my daughter for eating slowly but she couldn’t hear me regardless. My daughter was born deaf…
Then I suddenly was overwhelmed with the differences in perspective from one person to another. Who knows what this lady was going through? Maybe some trials and situations had warped her view of what was important in life.
It’s quite easy for our vision to get blurry when we’ve walked through hard times for an extended time. It is nature for us humans to begin to see life from only our perspective of pain instead of the hope we have in Jesus in all things. This is how two people can walk through the exact same situation and one of them seems to come out with more life and hope than ever and the other one withers up and becomes void of what appears to be any life at all. This is how on one side of the world there are people walking ten miles to attend one church service together with other believers and then you and I are furious when our fast food takes longer than a few minutes to be prepared for us.
This is how a young boy who grows up in a home where the father claims Jesus yet walks from his own skewed perspective grows up to become bitter and angry at God and even his perspective of a loving God is warped into something seriously off-point. This is how a girl who has been told her whole life that she is worthless grows up to constantly work to achieve approval from men; an approval she never found at a critical point of childhood.
This is how, when you and I do not make it a priority to see life through a lens of God’s promises of hope, we will quickly begin to react out of our bitterness and loss and very real pain, instead of our gratitude and faith.
I’ll be real. This situation reminded me of where my own heart has been over the last few months. I’ve honestly never felt worse before in my life. In only about four months I’ve dealt with the worst pregnancy nausea I’ve ever experienced. Besides that I’ve had strep throat, the flu, a stomach virus, two sinus issues, a UTI and messed my back up. It’s just been downright rough. I have had a lot of days of real grouchiness with those I love dearly. I really have reacted and responded out of my feelings way, way more than I’d like to admit. It’s been hard to react in the way I know is right and pure. I have struggled to respond from the promises I know so well.
I want to always see others and the situations around me through the lens of hope. Always…I want to have an ever-growing hope as life’s storms blow by. I want to be more and more confident and full of faith, and never-ever bitter or angry at those I love, because of how I feel.
Our human perspective can get very warped, at best, through our life experiences, if we don’t make our priority to see life through a lens of God’s promises each day. This is what faith is. In faith we are able to say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus…regardless of what I am seeing or experiencing right now. You are the God of all hope. I am truly, never again hopeless in your hands! I have all of the hope of heaven living inside of me, every single day!”
You and I are given million reasons to be bitter and angry every day of our lives…but we are also given a million reasons to rejoice. It’s our choice what glasses we choose to put on…it really is a matter of perspective.