For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been focused on this mantra: God, help me to see what you want me to see. A speaker at a retreat I attended shared that she’s been starting her day that way, and it stuck with me.
God, help me to see what you want me to see.
We see and process thousands of images each day. Tens of thousands. Our brains process what we see in milliseconds, and then do things like tell our eyes what to look at next or create a smile in response to joy.
Everything we see communicates something to us. We may need to see more in something or we may need to see (or “read”) less into something, but everything we see has a message. And as we interact with people throughout the day, I think the vast majority of what we see is based on choices – our choices, the choices of others, and our reaction to the choices of others. Our brains process, we make judgements based on, and we have reactions to or feelings about things like what someone chose to wear, what attitude someone chose to have, or what action someone chose to take or not take.
What we see in ourselves and in others is a lot about choices. And the more I purposely focus on God help me to see what you want me to see the more the word “you” becomes important. God help me to see what YOU want me to see.
About 18 months ago, I journaled about choices:
* We are all a product of our choices.
* Our choices reveal who we are.
* Our choices reveal our priorities.
* Choices that are easy moment to moment often end up being costly.
* Everything in our lives is a reflection of our choices. What we are or are not is a reflection of our choices.
* If you’re an adult, you make and made your own choices. No one but you is responsible for the life you’re living. One of the many choices throughout any given day is to turn around or not, to restart on a new path, or be lazy, or continue on a path of bad choices.
* If you have children, literally every choice you make impacts them somehow.
* Loyalty is a choice. Integrity is a choice. Love is a choice. Hate is a choice. Forgiveness, Honesty, Courage, Vengeance, Bitterness, Presence, Busyness, Learning, Happiness, Faith, Patience are all choices.
* Your reactions to the behavior of others are choices.
* Not making a choice or letting others choose for you are choices.
* Your background and experiences shaped who you are, but where you are or are not in life goes back to your choices. You are not a victim of the choices of others unless you choose to be, but you are simply the product of your own choices.
* You have the freedom to choose anything and everything, with the exception of the consequences of your choices.
I went looking for that entry a couple days ago and have reread it several times trying to decide if the list is complete. It’s not, and this is what’s missing: choices are the primary thing we see in people.
No words I speak ever communicate as clearly or as loudly as the choices I make. No words we speak ever communicate as clearly or as loudly as the choices people see us make. No art we create and no words we write tell the story of who we are like the choices people see us make. What conveys the truth about what we actually believe in are the choices we make. What conveys who and what is actually the priority in our lives are the choices people see us make. No one has more influence over the message of who we are than we do, and that’s because the only person responsible for our choices is us.
Choice is our most powerful communication tool. Our choices are greater than any spoken or written I love you. Our choices are the proof.
And the reality that choice is our most powerful communication tool is even more significant for parents. Children often don’t understand our grown-up words, so all they have to go on is the choices they see us make. And as children get a little older they don’t believe the words we say because they don’t want to listen to anyone or even because we’ve let them down before, so they look at the choices they see us make. We have to constantly assess what our choices are showing them. That’s when God help me to see what you want me to see becomes God help me to see what my children see in me.
God help me to see what you want me to see. Help me to see what you want me to see in me. Help me to see what you want me to see in others. Help me to see what I’m communicating with each choice I make. Help me to see.