Eye of history

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The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

As there are two sides of a coin, there are also two sides of the story. Most people will filter all that happens through their eye of history. What you bring to the table is often cluttered by the history you bring along with you. I’ve learned over the years how to deal with my own history. I used to get very frustrated when people would tell me to “get over it” or “deal with it” or “let it go”. These words, when you get it, make sense and are awesome. However, if you’ve never learned how to deal with your emotions in a healthy way, these are vague empty words that are highly unattainable.

History can be a very good thing. Sometimes, it isn’t so much. When you’re making the latest and greatest new invention, history is a great thing to know where you are coming from to know where you need to go. It even tells you how to avoid some of those pitfalls. However, history can also hinder you from the very thing that you were meant to do. For example, if you were meant to be a great leader and a public figure, getting publicly embarrassed by one of your teachers will probably keep you from ever wanting to be the center of attention. Or, how many people have you seen that are frugal beyond necessary means? Robbie Dawkins said, “If you are standing at the edge of a cliff and you are scared, that is called smart”. Yeah, totally! However, what if I told you the conditions were difference. What if I told you, you were a bird and had wings? See, what most people don’t realize is that history isn’t always a great indicator to properly perceive what is happening in the here and now. History told you, you fell last time so you must stay away from that cliff. What if history forgot to mention that you didn’t know how to use your wings yet? You’d be like Rio, a bird that never knew how to fly. Your lack of a global perspective prevents you to see the tools you have now to do the very thing you failed at before.

William Edward Hickson (or Aaliyah) says, “If at first you don’t success, try, try, try again”. There is a beauty in endurance and perseverance. Some very ambitious people get a very bad rep for their crazy persistence; however, I’d like to present the fact that most of what we have today has been made available by those same people who were not willing to give up. Did you know Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at the light bulb? Can you imagine not having electric light bulbs today? How much of the world got transformed by this one invention? What if he had given up on the first try or even the 999th try?

So what’s all this have to do with emotions? Well everything! Emotions usually make you steamroll in one direction without really desiring or asking for the right perspective. Your emotions cloud your judgment. Even in hindsight, if you have not properly dealt with your emotions, it will be your emotional memory. A lot of people throw out the baby with the bathwater. I’m not fond of this phrase but it really gets the point across. Like the bird who won’t fly off the cliff, failure can stop us from doing the very thing we were meant to do because in our emotional state, we don’t accurately evaluate what really happened. Scientists are fascinating. They will take into account each variable and make measurable differences to each attempt to see what brings them closer to their goal. Perhaps we all need to become much like scientists. Instead of wearing tinted glasses of history, figure out where the tints came from in the very thing that we wanted to do. Sometimes, other people are involved but I guarantee that most people will not be maliciously coming at you. If you train yourself to believe that the other person was not out to get you, you almost immediately get a new perspective of what was happening. Perhaps the other person had a bad day, perhaps something else got triggered from their history… regardless, those things have nothing to do with you and so you can rest easy that they were surely not out to harm you. You don’t have to allow someone else’s bad day to ruin yours. Jesus says, “Forgive them for they don’t know what they do”. Christian or not, you gotta admit, these are some very wise words. If they really knew what they were doing, do you really think they would do it? So how colored is your eye of history?

 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” Luke 11:34

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Stay on course!

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As I was driving with hail-like structures falling from the sky (at 2 days from April), a car had run over that puddle on the other side of the jersey rail and had splashed the largest (probably coolest) array of water onto my side. The whole of it splashed unexpectedly onto my windshield as I scrambled to ensure my wipers were on that super fast annoying mode. In that moment, I had a flashback to when I was in college. I was driving my pastor back to the airport and right in front of me, a car slides on the icy roads and slams into the jersey rail. In that moment, my pastor quickly grabs the wheel and tells me, the most important thing I must do is to remember to keep on the course that I was going. During this water array, I had that same experience. I couldn’t see the road ahead of me but I simply had to remember that I was going in the right direction before the water had splashed. In the midst of not being able to see right in front of me, I had to remain secure in the fact that I had done everything to stay on the right course. How true is it that in life, often those unexpected scenarios come onto the scene and the very thing we want to do (avoid) is often the most harmful thing that we could do given the rest of our environment. If I were to veer in any direction, I would have definitely hit another car or perhaps the jersey rail.

On this drive, we also listened to a myriad of songs from a wide variety of genres. In many of these songs, the artist would lament how they would change their life for the one they loved. Phrases like, “if you would only smile back at me” or “I would do anything for you”, etc. I’m sure you may now have a tune that goes along with such lyrics. These words, however, are just… sad. If your world could be changed by a look, a comment or an action of one other person, you have created for yourself a life of destruction. There’s an incredible burden and pressure upon the other as well as a great fear within you of what may go wrong, which would be a whole lot given this world. In this, I am learning each day, how much identity is so important. Who you are determines the lens through which you see the world. An insecure person most likely thinks that the world is conspiring against them or no one cares about them. What a small and inhabitable world to live in.

I feel like these last few years have been a molding season. I remember my first response when that car veered to the jersey rail, in merely looking at the accident, my hands started to take the car in the wrong direction. I feel like what happened today is indicative of my heart condition of who I am. This time, the “happenings” were directly at me but instead of freaking out, I simply remembered and trusted the decisions I had made to get there. Today, I can say the same about me. What used to shake me from the world, those comments, those looks, those behaviors, these no longer have any power over me because I remember who I am, I remember the course that I am on, I remember where I am headed. I remember my heart. So where’s your heart? What can make you veer off the course that you are on? Is it worth it?

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you” Proverbs 4:25