Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Friday, May 11, 2007

There's a Flaw in My Filter

When my first husband was alive, he was a real camera buff. He had the entire photography set up, from backdrops, to lights, to darkroom supplies, to specialty effects. He had many cameras and multiple lenses. He also had an entire case of filters. These specially shaped and colored lenses were amazing to me. They screwed onto the very end of the lens and their job was to add some sort of special effect to the finished photograph. Some were tinted a deep rose, others a smokey gray and others a sky blue. Some had different effects, rather like fun house mirrors. For instance the fish eye filter elongated the picture, while the halo filter made, of course, a halo effect around the photographed subject. Each of them did something different. But each of them distorted the real picture.
It occurred to me that each of us also has a filter. We have our own special lens through which we view the world, our family and even our God. Our filter is made up of our life experience. And it is through that filter that we see everything, and it is through it that we base our decisions regarding behaviors and relationships. For example, I had a friend named Carrie. When I met her she was twenty-two years old and searching for a faith. Upon meeting Carrie, one had to notice that she had burn scars on one side of her face, neck and arms. She was in fact, missing the lower part of one arm and two fingers on the other hand. She did her best to camoflauge her scars but they were still glaringly visible. Carrie and I quickly became friends. We studied God's Word for several months. I could tell that she was ready to claim Christ as her savior, ready to put Him on in baptism, but something was holding her back. I prayed for her daily, asking God to open her heart and give me the words she needed to hear. One night after Bible study, I noticed Carrie was very quiet. She did not want a brownie or coffee and she was not her usual smiling and conversational self. She said she was very tired, she gave me a hug and headed home. At one o'clock in the morning, my phone rang. It was Carrie. She was sobbing and asked if she could come over. A few minutes later she arrived at the door and I could tell she'd been crying for quite some time. We sat on the sofa for what seemed like forever, she sobbing, me handing her tissues and patting her hand. Finally she spoke. She said, "Neva, I know I need Jesus as my Savior and I know I need the Holy Spirit to guide me, but I don't know how to get that without having God for my Father." I was shocked and I remember swallowing very hard, hoping it was not also very loud. We talked for quite some time before she finally began her explanation. She told me that she'd had a very bad childhood. She told me that her mom worked all the time and that her dad was very abusive and mean. She said that often her dad would come home and inform the family that they were moving, right then. They would gather up what they could and sneak away, away from the bill collectors, away from the landlord, away from the job he'd just been fired from and away from any friends she might have made, any support system she might have had. Her dad had a temper and her mom, and Carrie and her sister had often been the object of his rage. The constant moving allowed him to take out his anger on the nearest person, move on to a new job, a new neighbor, a new school, a new hospital. They had all suffered broken bones at his hands and wounds that required stitches. Carrie and her sister Evelyn, learned from their mother and none of them said a word. They did not cry out when his fists and feet came at them, tearing their skin, bruising their muscles and breaking their bones. They knew to take the abuse quietly and then when he was spent, to comfort each other. Carrie remembered a time when her parents seemed to argue more than usual. She remembered her mom asking her father to leave. She remembered the three of them lying in the same bed all night, watching the door, jumping at every sound, her mom holding a hammer, all of them fearing her dad would come back home and the rage would start again.
Their worst nightmare came true and one night he came home angrier than ever. He beat them all, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire. Carrie's mother died in the fire, as did Evelyn. Carrie was taken to a burn center and remained in critical condition for quite some time. After many months in a rehabilitation center and multiple skin grafts and other surgeries, Carrie remained a scarred and disabled young woman, a young woman with a broken heart and a young woman with a distorted view of what a father is.
I cried with Carrie that night. We talked until morning, looking at scriptures about God's love, about His providence, about His protection. Together we found a Christian counselor and after many months of intense therapy, Carrie decided she wanted a Father after all. She remained my Christian sister and a dear dear friend until her death in 1996.
Carrie's suffering was horrible, my words do not accurately portray how vile the abuse was. Her body and her filter were changed and shaped by this evil, sick man. She could no longer view the world without the distortion. She could not accept a Father because she had a flaw in her filter.
It took a lot of work for her to begin to see clearly.
Every single one of us has a filter through which we view the world and while Carrie's was indeed flawed, I believe each of ours is also. Its a lot like buying a new car. Have you ever noticed when you purchase a new vehicle, all of the sudden they are everywhere? You pass the same make and model on the highway, they park beside you at the supermarket, you see ads for them allover. You see them in places they had not been before. So either everyone saw how cool you looked in your new car and tried to emulate you or your filter changed and you began to notice all the cars like yours, in the same places they had always been, now just catching your attention. Look at the stories that touch our heartstrings, notice the ones that evoke the most intense gut reaction. If you have lost a child, stories about grieving parents get to you everytime. If you have been widowed, you relate to those stories. If you have suffered or loved someone who has suffered from a terminal illness, you relate to illness related stories of survival. We all do this, it is because our filter has been changed, altered by our experience. This is not all bad, it makes us more empathetic and more compassionate.
However just as the filter on a camera lens distorts the picture, so do our filters. We view the world through our emotional experience. This distortion causes a change in the way we relate or don't relate to others. It causes a change in the way we decide where to put our energies, who to cheer for. It can even change the way we look at God and our relationship with Him, just as it did Carrie. Our filter can cause us to see things emotionally with total disregard for the facts. Our filter begins to form our expectations of ourselves and others. Remember the post yesterday? Sometimes our expectations become so unrealistic and so control driven that we end up drowning in disappointment.
Please let's be very careful when we interact with others. We don't all come from the same place. We don't all share the same experience and we don't all carry the same baggage with us. Therefore we all have very different filters and very different viewpoints. Our goal as Christ's bride, as God's people, is to view the world, view the lost, view the Father and His word and view ourselves through His filter instead of viewing them through ours. His filter is the only one that gives us a clear, pure picture, with absolutely no distortions, no flaws. What makes up your filter? How does it impact your relationships, your emotions, etc. ?

Peace,
Neva

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! That is a lot to think about.
And think about it, I will.

Thanks friend
Pat

1:00 PM  
Blogger Abiding In Christ, Amen! said...

Neva,

In reading this, it caused me to examine my own life and the things I've been thru and why I "view" things the way I do. And I know that my "knee-jerk" reactions are based on my perceptions, not necessarily the true intent of why so-and-so aaid and did what they did.

Reading about that young lady brought up somethings for me. Painful things that no longer hurt, but remind me of how I need to be more loving and caring twds a certain person (and persons) in my life right now. You're right. We're not all from the same bundle of grapes, nor have we all experienced the same things.

In this experience, I am humbled again.

What really got to me in this post was your ability to relate it to camera filters and the effects that its got on the "image" we see.

It leaves me to wonder, from what "view" am I interacting with Person X and Y? Am I ministering to them from a hurting place? Am I leading with a defensive posture? Does my handshake prove faulty?

Thank you for posting this. You'll never know what your writing has done.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is truly frightening the norms and values we collect as we group up as humans, and how different they can be from someone else's.

the scariest is how unaware we are of them. We assume so much

thanks for your words
brian

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Powerful post. Causes me to examine my heart and watch my words.
Thanks sister
Carlos

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again you have stepped on my toes and nudged at my heart. I am so guilty of expecting others to act and react as I do. Your post showed me how my filter has distorted my perceptions. Thank you dear friend.

Rachel

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,
You will probably never know how much todays post impacted my life. My filter is indeed flawed and I realize now that the only truly undistorted filter is when we see through the eyes of God. It truly changes the way we look at the lost and at our christian friends and families.

You are a blessing.
Corinne

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very thought-provoking post. I am glad Carrie had you for a friend. I am grateful for the lessons she taught you and you passed on to us. We can all learn from this.
Blessings Neva,

Carol

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is potentially a life changing concept. You should write a book. Imagine if Christians everywhere had God's filter instead of their own. We could overcome any personal tragedy. We could help anyone and everyone. We could evangelize the world. (I say think big). You explained the concept but how do we get that kind of filter? How do we get rid of the flaws in our filters? How do we see correctly and perfectly?

Yvonne

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES !

(I am so moved I dont know what else to say)

Lyndsay

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we see is not reality. You are right and it is often so arrogant for us to assume that we as Christians have the only undistorted view of the world. We all need some filter work.
This is a good post.

Interested Bystander

5:51 PM  
Blogger His Girl said...

What a wonderful post...if only we would all grasp and appreciate it. So often when I do realize that I'm seeing things through my own filter, it's "after the fact." I'll keep working on recognizing the flaws in my filter!

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed at your wisdom and insight. You have a way of blessing all who come here.
I love ya

Kel

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My filter is made up of the legalism of the misguided. I find myself getting upset when christians dont come on Wednesday night, like it could really keep them out of heaven. I find myself getting angry when they work or go out of town or do anything but "punch in" their attendance. I confess my filter is flawed, too. It is an ongoing struggle. Please pray for me.
Shari

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After examining my own filter, I find it has been shaped in a large part by the firing of my dad when he was a preacher. I have a really bad taste in my mouth about elderships and find myself being less than fair adn honest regarding them. That is shameful.

Dan

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, mine's flawed too in more ways than I care to mention.
Good thoughts today.

Yvonne

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva
Larry and Donna had so many questions our study lasted until after midnight. It was so awesome. Please keep praying for them. I just know they are going to come to God. We have another study tomorrow night here at the house. It is awesome to see the light coming on in their soul like it did ours. I printed off some of your blogs to give her. Hope that is okay.
Love
Kara

9:58 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Kara,
I am so excited for you! It is awesome when God uses you isnt it? I will definitely pray for them. As for my blog---anything I have is yours, my sister.
I am very proud of you and Judd. I take you to the Father everyday, asking Him to keep you strong and faithful.
Have a great mothers day,
Love
n

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It frightens me how easily we judge others and how much bias we truly have.
This post is very insightful..

Stuart

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of us have really messed up filters. It makes total sense that a past consisting of sexual or physical abuse, drug and or alcohol useage, adultery or divorce, death and illness or any other major events would color the way we look at everything. If you look back at yesterdays comments you will see a prime example. Things from outside us are filtered in through our filter and then into our brain developing words that are again filtered out through our filter and to make matters worse the same thing is happening to those we are communicating with. No wonder none of us seem able to get along. We cant communicate honestly---we are distorted.

Gene

11:26 PM  
Blogger Monalea said...

Neva, somewhere out in blog-land is a comment I sent. I have brain damage so don't remember what it is. I needed the post. In '97 I began seeing a counselor to get my filter replace. Only God can replace a filter.

Monalea

11:27 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

Neva,

So true. It was a good post. We are told about these filters from time to time. The country song of years past "Rose Colored Glasses" for example. There was a book about filters called "A New Pair of Glasses" which some may have read. We forget though. Thanks for the reminder.

I would want to make a secondary observation. There are broad filters that we should choose on purpose. There is quite a bit of emphasis in the Bible on a "worldly " or "flesh" versus "In Christ". Which do we choose? The Bible is another choice. Do we look at things from a Biblical perspective or another viewpoint. If the Koran is 'gospel' for you, than you that will color your thinking.

I recognize that some of my thought are related to past experiences etc but this can be good. As I mentioned yesterday I have worked in the area of substance abuse. I heard several mention the isolation or alienation an alcoholic might feel from the Church. We as the Church need to do something about that. We should but we may be stuck and they may be stuck and we just keep doing what we have always done.

You know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

If we want to bring people to the savior and allow Him to heal them we better expect a healing!

Kara, It is so good to hear such good news from your world. Keep up shining the light.

James

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing how our perspective changes when we come face to face with struggles, especially struggles we thought were reserved for "other people".

Excellant post
Jeneane

12:40 AM  
Blogger jel said...

flyby hugging :)

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My filter is very flawed. It is something I have worked on over the years and at times make much progress. Thanks for the boost

Mary

10:34 AM  

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