i did it. i went shopping today. today, of all days, “Black Friday”, i went out into the crowds. no, not at 5am, but i was in a store before 8am.
so what? well, here’s the thing–i do not like crowds. i mean, i do NOT like crowds. so why on earth would i go out shopping, by myself, on the busiest shopping day of the year?!?! the answer: i don’t really know. but something was different this year. instead of tension, frustration, and just wanting to get out, i leisurely strolled the aisles of the two busiest stores. i left with a smile on my face and satisfied with the outing.
to give perspective on the level of despising i hold for crowds, we used to attend a church of over two-thousand members. though there were three services, i still would tense up when it was time to leave and the masses of people would start to file down the center aisle and out the back door. my friend would walk in front, paving the way for me, and i would wear a messenger back slung to hang behind me to keep space between myself and the next person. only when we hit the parking lot would i take a breath and be able to focus on anything other than just getting out of the church. i freeze, i get nervous, and at some level, i get scared. i hate the unpredictability of groups of people. i don’t like touching people i don’t know, for i feel rude. and i certainly don’t like others bumping into me. and i feel like there is no escape.
but not every time. when visiting manhattan with a friend, he had to literally drag me through the streets, through Times Square, through the subway stations, through the crowds at Yankee Stadium. if he was holding my hand and dragging me through the crowds, i could forget the crowds and could look around. i saw everything there was to see–because someone was there, taking care of me so that i could enjoy the trip–and let’s face it, he also knew that left on my own we would still be standing on the same street corner waiting for the crowds to clear so i could take a few steps!
with this level of tension in crowds, how on earth did i leave this morning’s adventures with enjoyment and smiles? it was all about what i was looking for. i didn’t “need” anything–so i wasn’t focused on getting one of the very few items that were on crazy-sale. there were a few things i had my eye on, but there was no competition.
when leaving the house (in the rain!) i accepted that i would likely have to park far away from the entrance due to the crowds, so when a front row space opened up and someone cut in front of me to get it–well, the funny thing is that i hadn’t noticed it until they cut in front of me. i just laughed and moved along to a spot further away.
and since i was looking for a leisurely day, i didn’t notice the insistent shoppers. and rather than being annoyed at the screaming toddler, i felt bad for the mom!
The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
when i am looking for tension, when i go to the grocery store dreading the crowd on saturdays, all i see is the rudeness, the impatience, and the obliviousness of others. and that’s just on a normal saturday! but when i go out looking for a leisurely morning, going patiently so i can allow others before me without a second thought, then i will have the experience i had this morning. even on Black Friday.
so what are you looking for? are you convinced that your child will always disappoint you? you have just chosen the lens through which you will see that child. are you convinced your boss will always be out to get you? congratulations, you just predicted every single thing you will notice about work. now, your child may still disappoint and the boss may legitimately be out to get you. but if you go seeking that, it is all you will see.
instead, go out committed to see God. so when the child disappoints, you will see the layers of growth and maturity that have happened since last time. when the boss undercuts you again, you will see how God has changed your heart since the last time it happened.
as you wake up and go about your day, choose what you will seek. what are you convinced will happen? is it what God would want you focusing on? your life can change with a simple change in your spectacles.