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  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

The Defining Shift to My Rose-Colored Perspective

The local grocery store check-out line is not my favorite. But that is where I found myself one Thursday afternoon in the 25-minute time frame of my son’s guitar lesson. I had a quick errand to run and this store was the closest option. Not an atypical experience when buying gift cards, the first-line employee made an error and the store manager had to be called. As I waited, a disgruntled lady filed in behind me in line, grumbling to anyone in earshot.

The manager arrived, started correcting my gift card purchase and the lady behind me spoke up, “Hey, why did you get rid of all of the self-check-out lines? You know, they were really convenient. Now we have to wait longer.” The poised manager lifted her eyes from my gift cards and shifted them to meet this customer’s. She matter-of-factly replied, “We did a study and discovered that one out of every five people were stealing from us.”

Silence. Silence from the cantankerous lady behind me. Silence from the manager. Silence from me. But no silence in my ever-churning-blog-writing-ready mind…

I thought, “Oh my word! That is 20% of people stealing! One out of every five! Boy, have I met up with some of those cheaters! What kind of world are we living in?!! Augh!”

Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit gave me a nice swift kick in the rear and helped me see the need for a shift in my perspective.

I had become a see-er of the 20%. I saw it everywhere. I crushed my rose-colored glasses with my bare hands, bleeding and in pain as the reality of badness and evil in our world set in. It started when I was sued for a fictitious injury that led to months of lies and a sad failure of our justice system to protect innocent victims of con artists. At the same time, I recognized and stopped a life-long habit of enabling people. This left me misunderstood as I shifted from peacemaking at all cost to truth-telling and boundary setting instead. My well-meaning heart of compassion was shattered into pieces as a result. I was so overwhelmed with pain that it was far easier for me to see the 20% than the 80%.

My trust in strangers completely vanished. My trust in those close to me became very guarded and measured. My extroverted world came crumbling down as people could no longer energize me as they once did. I wanted to hide under my covers and never ever come out.

One of my friends called me “street smart” when I went to help her with a run in with the 20%. I liked that description a lot better than “jaded”. But either way, I knew exactly what to tell this friend about the false accusations a 20% person was hurling at her. We took pictures, documented everything, called the police and thankfully, she did not have a fall out from the incident like I did. In some way, her protection from what I had endured allowed for a bit of a shift in my mindset as it helped me to see purpose in my pain.

The remainder of the shift came in that grocery store check-out line. All of a sudden, I thought, “But what about the 80%? Four out of every five people are NOT stealing. Four out of every five people are honest.” I drove to my son’s guitar lesson with a smile and a feeling of hope.

I thought about all of the people represented by the 80%. My mind exploded with ways to apply this percentage – to religion, to politics, to each and every hot button topic. People have different opinions, views, experiences and backgrounds. People are republicans. People are democrats. 20% are either far far left or far far right. Those 20% I cannot engage in conversation with. But, I can engage in conversation with the 80%, who are the majority. The shift to see the 80% instead of the 20% is not only a logical choice, but it has allowed for a re-emergence of the “glass half full” best version of myself.

I sat having breakfast with a dear friend and told her my little 80% shift story. We are different but also very much the same and have the deepest richest conversations one could imagine. I always learn from her and hope she learns from me too.

As we were sharing our hearts of hope, a woman asked to sit down with us. This woman, seemingly engrossed in her laptop, perked up when we started talking about community service. She was new to the area and was looking for a way to plug into a volunteer organization. She asked us several questions. One question led to another and eventually, she started asking about our faith. We shared some very deep and interesting conversations about different faiths, about loving people and about my 20% and 80% perspective shift.

Before parting ways, she told me, “I have to be honest with you. I saw your bibles on the table and thought you were a bunch of “bible beating Trumpers” and I didn’t want to sit with you. But I am so glad I did not let that pre-judgement keep me from sitting down and getting to talk to you! You are nothing like that! I know God wanted me to meet you today.”

Instances like this one cause me to imagine my mind as a host site for a wrestling match. It is there where I have to believe that there really is good and that there really is evil. And I don’t want to. I want there to be no evil. I want people to be kind and I want forgiveness to be spread like dandelion seeds. I want people to all have good deep within. I want this for 100% of people. Basically, I want it to be like heaven here.

But, we do not live in such a utopia. We live in a world with so many pre-judgements, just like the one imposed upon my friend and I in the coffee shop that day. We live on an earth that has been marred by sin and rebellion against a good good God who wanted us to have the 100%. We just couldn’t stand it! We wanted to be as knowledgeable as God and we wanted control. So, we took matters into our own hands, ate the forbidden apple and still vie for that unreachable control and absolute knowledge today.

God certainly could have washed His hands of us and walked away after our rebellion. But, instead, He ushered us out of the Garden, clothed us and promised a Messiah. He kept His promise and sent His own son, Jesus, who stands in the gap of this earth and heaven for us through his death on the cross. He makes it possible for us to reach our deepest heart yearnings of 100% goodness, love, peace and grace.

Life on this earth is not easy. It can be lonely and isolating. It can rock you to your core and leave you paralyzed in a dark room of despair. But it is also so good. It is 80% good, it is four out of five good. For every one person who does not smile back at you, four will. Try it. I have learned that it is good to be guarded, it is good to have boundaries, it is good to have perspective. It is also good to be “street smart” – as my friend called it. But, it is not good to be jaded. It is not good to see evil and expect it. Because you will surely find it, churn it in your mind and risk allowing its toxicity to color your world dark.

God is the opposite of that dark. He is light. He is bigger than our shattered rose-colored glasses. He is bigger than our fictitious lawsuits. He is bigger than our fears of rejection, isolation and of being misunderstood. He is also bigger than any thief in this world. The 80% are in His hands. The 20% are in His hands. Not only does God help us to see the 80% and live in community with that majority, but He is all the while loving and leading the 20% too. Friends, God has got this life. He has got all of us, the 80% and the 20%. He will not stop pursuing any of us until we trust him. And trusting Him results in enjoying eternity with Him and the 100% good He originally planned for us.

“God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.” – Psalm 56: 12-13 The Message

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