This week, we had some beautiful weather and, on one such evening, we were eating dinner on the porch. I gazed over the backyard and noticed that some of the trees in the woods already have the characteristic red hue that precedes the brilliant color of autumn. I pointed out these harbingers to my husband and received the traditional “Ugh!” and I was reminded of our differing perspective.
We each have our own perspective whether it be on monumental topics such as our spiritual life or whether the topic is insignificant such as leaf color.
I see the beautiful pallet of color that the Lord provides in the wide variety of trees in our yard and down the street. The spring blooms excite me with joy like a child seeing a Christmas tree.
When it comes to fall colors, I am just as excited about the forthcoming color bonanza that highlights our street; however, my beloved husband will usually respond with “Ugh!” Rest assured, he is not anti-color and he is not diminishing the glory of God’s creation.
Indeed, he loves the color in the trees, if only the leaves would stay on the trees! What he [fore]sees is the pile of dried leaves that translates into work when he has to rake or somehow remove them from the yard so the grass beneath the pile does not die through the winter.
You see, it is all our perspective. Often we speak with people and the response we get is not what we expect. We say something that is fairly mild and, to our surprise, we get an animated fervent response opposing our comment. We may be inclined to respond with equal fervor, but before we do, we should stop and think of the perspective of the other person. There may be something of which we are totally unaware and which, if it had been known, would explain the reaction. For example, another approach to the fall leaves on the ground would be the fun that a child has in being buried under the leaves!
People much more trained than I will have to answer how to change the perspective of another, or even if that is possible; but I can say that Scripture tells us about how we should respond in that situation.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2
Again, in Proverbs 29:11 we read:
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.
And James, the half-brother of our Lord, said:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20.
When my husband responds “Ugh” to my glee at the colorful leaves, I need to remember the difference in perspective. I remind him of the glory of God’s creation and, while I physically can’t do much in the yard, at least I offer to help him.
When it is clear that differing perspectives are at issue, how can you defuse the situation and respond with a soft answer, thinking about the perspective of both you and your fellow Christian? Pray for guidance, and He will give you wisdom.
Praise Him for the difference in perspective. Sometimes, a different perspective enables us to see more of the whole picture!