I was recently listening to a talk given by Erwin McManus, an author and Lead Pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, California. In the talk, McManus explains that how we see the world, and people, will inform the way we experience life. In other words, if we see people as generally bad, our perception will impact the reality we are able to see and live. The opposite is true. If we start with a positive perception of the people and the world we encounter, we are more likely to find that reality.
McManus expands on this, but it made me think about living a life of impact and hope. Deep down, I believe almost everyone, if not everyone, would vote for having a life that matters and makes a difference in the world. However, many times we perceive the issues to be too complicated to address as a “normal person”. I have written about this tension in the past, but listening to McManus made me think: what if our perception impacts our ability to see the ways in which we can make a difference?
In other words, what if it is much simpler than we perceive, and our biggest roadblock is actually ourselves?
Now, before you write me off as naïve, I know the world is a complex place full of complex problems. In fact, the last article I wrote, Fear is (Sometimes) a Liar, was all about our tendency to make issues that are “gray”, “black and white”. However, as complicated as the world can be at times, our ability to have an impact doesn’t have to be. Maybe we need to start from a different place to see the simple ways we can bring life to others, and do our “small” part in solving the larger problem. Maybe we need to start simply living.
What exactly does that look like? Well, it starts with believing hope is an option and we have the ability to bring it. To make it more concrete, we need to look for the opportunities for change instead of the reasons a problem or person is irredeemable. It also requires us to look for the simple ways we can make a difference instead of the complexity of the overall issue. This might (and probably should) require collaborating with someone else who brings another piece of the solution to the table.
Next, we need to take off the blinders. As humans, we have a tendency to become blind to issues we believe we cannot solve. While there could be some truth to that perception, it prevents us from seeing the small, simple ways we could engage. As I have written in previous articles, it starts with a simple step.
What is amazing is that when we start to see the world, and the people in it, as filled with potential, the opportunities for us to bring life to others begin to abound. No longer blind to what is possible, we are simply able to bring what we have to help make that potential a reality.
I know this is true because this is my story. A number of years ago, I was challenged to begin seeing the world and the people we sometimes write off differently. I realized that they are not much different than I am but may not have received the same opportunities or encouragement that I had. This realization allowed me to see the hope inside of others and the opportunity to bring them life. I did not have all of the answers, and I still do not, but I could take a simple step forward to make a difference. One step has led to another and I am now encouraged more than ever about my ability to play a role in helping other reach their God-given potential.
The byproduct? The life of significance for which so many of us are searching. Simply living a life-giving life, believing that hopelessness can be overcome, produces more life in us. This should not be a surprise–it is the way we are designed. By giving our life away we experience more life ourselves. Making this happen starts with seeing the world as full of opportunities to bring life instead of full of problems to avoid.
To put it simply, there is a world full of hope, we simply need to start seeing it.
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