A House Divided

Not too long ago, my husband and I “cut the cord” and cancelled our cable subscription. It seemed like pretty good timing in one sense–we missed a lot of disturbing news coverage. Of course, you can never really escape such things, and therefore, even without watching the news, I knew all about Charlottesville. And then last week, about Hurricane Harvey. One of the things I definitely knew–no matter what was going on, people weren’t agreeing. 

A few weeks ago at church, we were discussing unity in our morning Bible class, and I shared a thought that struck me. We often tend to look back on the past with rose-colored glasses–that while now is a time of discontent, surely things were better “then”. You know, “then”? Continue reading “A House Divided”

Through the Looking Glass

A few days ago, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for awhile, and we were chatting about a mutual acquaintance of ours from several years ago. I was very surprised to find that our memories of this person were dramatically different–a person that I had always seen as good, kind, and thoughtful was viewed by my friend as spiteful and vindictive.

I’ve taken some time to reflect on how our visions of the same person can be so dramatically different, and what I keep coming back to is a verse from the Bible–I Corinthians 13:12.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. King James Version

In ancient times, mirrors were very different from ours. In fact, not so very long ago at all, mirrors were simply shiny pieces of metal. When the metal became tarnished, the reflection was a shadow of the truth.

Unfortunately, that’s often the reality of how we see others. We are looking through darkened, soiled, or even broken glass, preventing us from seeing each other clearly. What we perceive to be truth is merely a shadow of the reality.

Even more unfortunate is the tendency to hide behind that broken or cloudy mirror, presenting only a portion of ourselves to others and hoping that they’ll never see the darkness below the surface.

The more I thought about my friend and our mutual acquaintance, the more I wondered how others view me. What reflection is it that I present to the world? Am I hoping that a dirty mirror will hide my weaknesses, my shames, and my inadequacies from others, or am I ready to be known?

More modern versions of the Bible help us to interpret the verse as meaning that while we cannot always see things clearly, there is a One who can. We may not see the truth in others (or ourselves) just yet, but there will come a time when all is made known.

The fact is that we can only somewhat influence how we are seen by others. Some people will intentionally view us through a “funhouse mirror”, distorting the reality to meet their own perceptions. No matter how pure an image they project, they will always see what they wish.

So, does that mean it’s okay to just give up?

Nope. Luke tells us differently in Luke 6:31.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. King James Version

The best way to ensure that others are not seeing us through the glass “darkly” is to be a light unto the world. If I want to be seen by others in a certain way, then I must be that way. It doesn’t work to present a shadow and hope that everyone will see only that dim reflection–because somewhere, there’s someone who is seeing you clearly.

By the same token, I need to stop holding up my magnifying glass or funhouse mirror when I am regarding others, subjecting them to scrutiny that I would never be able to withstand myself.

I’d like to tell you that I’ve never been guilty of that–of looking at others through that dirty or distorted glass–but I think you see me clearly enough to know that I’d be lying to you.

I’m not sure why as humans we make so many assumptions that we know what lurks under the surface. The Bible’s pretty clear that no man is able to know another in that way (I Corinthians 2:11):

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

One of our favorite worldly traditions is setting resolutions for ourselves, particularly in January for New Year’s. As I am a teacher, my personal “New Year” is about to begin, and this year, I am making my own set of resolutions:

  • I will stop assuming that the reflection I see is the summary of the whole. Just as we only see the tip of an iceberg emerging from the water, I must remember that I am not able to see and know the whole of another person. It takes time for the reflection to be made clear.
  • I will do a better job working to ensure that the image others see of me is not merely a reflection, but a representation of truth. We all fall short of the glory of God, of course, but that’s no excuse not to take a little extra effort to ensure that what we see in that mirror is pleasing to the eye.

And what about you? What do others see when they peer over your shoulder into your mirror? What do you need to do about that reflection?


MICKI CLARK is the author of Don’t Ask Me to Leave, a modern retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. The novel is available in both digital and print form on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X6J7QLZ

Thank You!

What a great day it’s been. I am so appreciative of the fabulous article in the Madisonville Messenger, and thank you to everyone who came by to speak to me at today’s book signing and/or purchased a copy of Don’t Ask Me to Leave! It’s been a really fun journey and I’m so glad to have you all along with me.

If you didn’t get a chance to come to the book signing today and would like to have a signed copy, please email me. If you are local, we can meet, although I will also ship books to you. Mount Sterling folks–stay tuned for details of book signings in your area!

Again, thank you so much for your love and support! It means a great deal!

Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor (Add to Your Faith #3)

This is the third blog in the Add to Your Faith series. Read the rest of the series here.

Love is a great buzzword, right? After all, God is love, or so we say. My husband and I are currently trying to plan a way to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of our marriage–a milestone brought to you courtesy of… wait for it… love. 

For something so present in our lives, you’d think we’d understand more about it, but I think many people misunderstand one of the most basic tenets of love: to love anyone else, you must first love yourself. I’m not the only person who thinks so. Mark Twain once said, “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Lucille Ball would later comment, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Why does that matter? It could be argued that you shouldn’t love yourself–after all, the Bible tells us to be humble. I mean, I just wrote about that myself. But you know what? You must love yourself to love others.

Luke 6:31 tells us to “do unto others”. How can I love others if I don’t love myself? Romans 12:9 adds to that by saying that love must be sincere.

I must have a pure, Christian love for myself to be able to love others. That sounds complicated, but it’s not–the Lord gave us a blueprint for that love right in I Corinthians 13, right?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (verse 4)

One of the most difficult things to do with yourself sometimes is to be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself. In fact, we can be harder on ourselves than anybody else could ever hope… and unfortunately, when we’re being hard on ourselves, we’re often subject to pass that unkindness on to others. When we’re feeling stressed and upset, we snap at those that are closest.

My three kids help me remember this on a regular basis. I would never have classified myself as a patient person, but they are teaching me patience. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I see myself reacting differently than I did years ago. What I have noticed is that when I am centered, calm, and relaxed, my emotions pass on to my kids–no matter how simple or serious the issue. Sometimes I have to put my own needs or wants to the side for them, and sometimes they have to do the same for me. It’s a give and take. None of us are more important than the others. We are all even in God’s eyes.

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (verse 5)

Okay, yeah, this part’s really been a struggle for me (the easily angered part). In my childhood, my temper was legend. Legend, I tell you. And yeah, I can still get my rage on when necessary, but I’ve learned to rein it in considerably. The kicker here is the rest of the verse. Love does not dishonor others. Nothing positive will come from my negativity toward others. In fact, it’s usually the opposite–run other people down, and you just make yourself look bad. And then there’s the whole “keeping record of wrongs” thing. I was chatting with someone about this earlier. Women are notorious for this. 

I may or may not be able to recall an incident from my early elementary school days where a young classmate of mine pulled my hair while we were on the carpet for story time. The substitute teacher, who may or may not have had shoulder-length brown hair and white clothes on as she sat in the rocking chair with that book, may or may not have sent me to the corner as punishment for talking (even though all I said was “ouch” and I wasn’t the one who had pulled the hair). 

I still get a little huffy thinking about that incident.

You all, it’s been somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty years since that day, but I still remember That Woman’s name (and think of her as That Woman). Isn’t that ridiculous? Now, I’m an adult, and I realize it’s silly, but that doesn’t change the fact that the emotion’s still there, however deeply it may be buried. You know who doesn’t remember that day?

Anybody else.

So who am I hurting by keeping that memory alive? 

That’s right. Me. And only me.

That’s an exaggerated example, but it’s no different than being in the middle of a fight with my husband and dragging out all of our baggage from fifteen  years of marriage and four years of dating. That wouldn’t be loving at all–not loving to him, and not loving to myself. Why would I want to carry painful things around? A loving heart does what God does… forgives and forgets, and allows the slate to be wiped clean.

I am so excited to be celebrating fifteen years of marriage, but honestly, I’m just as proud of the fact that I have finally learned to love myself enough to allow me to have the best possible love for others. By releasing some of my own selfish desires, some of my own selfish preoccupations, and my own personal store of hurt feelings and pouty moments, I’ve opened my heart more fully than I could have ever hoped to before. I hope you can say the same!


Missed a post in the Add to Your Faith series? Catch up here.


MICKI CLARK is the author of Don’t Ask Me to Leave, available on Amazon (print and digital) and other fine retailers.

Newlywed Rachel Miller has everything she could want from life—the perfect husband, her dream job, and a cute little house in the country—but the daydream is shattered when her husband is killed in a tragic accident. Her mother-in-law, Nadine, takes her in as she tries to pick up the pieces, and their handsome neighbor Beau is willing to help…if Rachel will let him. Does she dare open her heart for a second chance at love? – Don’t Ask Me to Leave, March 2017

 

 

Hit the Ball! (Add to Your Faith #2)

As a mom of three youngsters, I spend a lot of time at the little league fields. I guess we’ve been playing ball for something like seven years now, although some nights it feels a lot longer. My husband and I help where we can, be it as “dugout mom/dad”, a base coach, et cetera. Over that seven years, I’ve observed a lot more than just children learning to play ball–I’ve observed the adults. Continue reading “Hit the Ball! (Add to Your Faith #2)”