Picture a child screaming her head off in a corner created by two different size store fronts in a mall. Now add a circle of family members encircling the child and giving her their full attention.
What do you see?
At one time I would have seen an undisciplined child who was getting absolutely too much attention for her behavior. I would have wondered why this family didn’t pack up this child, go home and put her to bed.
Now I might think that the child was in terrible distress. I would notice the noise, harsh lighting, crowds and generally over-stimulating environment. I might add in hunger and fatigue. I might imagine embarrassment, frustration and concern on the part of the family. Additionally, I might offer a prayer for their wisdom, patience and endurance.
What has changed? The picture is the same but my two interpretations are quite different. The short answer is that I am the one who has changed. The simple answer is that I hadn’t had children when I made the first assessment and I had experienced years of parenting in the second.
The deeper answer is that I have grown through my experiences. Life will do that to you. It brings us experience which changes us and deepens us. We can deepen in our conviction that we know best. In fact my second interpretation could be an example of just that. Or we can deepen in our compassion and desire to care for others rather than judge them. To know which is truer I need to examine my response and discern how I have grown and what my desire is for further growth. It is also possible that neither interpretation is correct and that I am being invited to new insights and further growth.
It’s quite difficult to know what is happening with another person’s experiences without learning to know them and listening carefully to them.
I invite you to take some time to explore a situation where your understanding has changed over the years. How have you changed and grown? How do you want to continue growing? Where might you want to pause to listen more carefully? Can you see Spirit movement in the changes in you?