I was mad and felt used.
A kid was stealing MY mangoes from MY tree. This happens regularly, but this time differed. The child was lightning-quick and was dressed in black—almost imp-like. As I worked in the kitchen, I saw him run to the tree a dozen times.
I let out a frustrated sigh, No one is that hungry. He’s just a thief. My thoughts spiraled beyond the imp. Why do neighborhood kids take MY mangoes? Don’t they know respect? Why am I responsible for feeding the neighborhood? I can’t handle this blatant dependency and trespassing. Africa is exhausting me!
I adjusted my glasses and set out to find the guard. I would show that imp-child whose mangoes they really were. But the child was gone, just as fast as he had come. Then the truth hit.
My glasses had fallen lower on my nose, causing me to see the bottom of my frames as I cooked. As I turned my head, I saw a black mark run across the yard. But it wasn’t a boy stealing my mangoes. It was the frame for my glasses. Silly me. No harm. No foul. Right? Not quite. My blurred vision had caused me anxiety, anger, and depression towards an imaginary person and then a continent. I was angry at Africa because my glasses fell off my nose.
But this isn’t an isolated story. Someone in church mistreats us, and we won’t trust Christians again. I see a street kid sell the food I gave and assume everyone is playing emotional games with my pocketbook. I am manipulated by one but blame the entire red dirt continent.
Do I Hang On to Hurt or Hope
Our perceptions get off focus just as easily as glasses slip down my nose. As I readjusted my glasses, we can readjust our focus so we focus not on the pain but on our hope: Christ.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).
Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. I don’t understand that verse, but aim to. I want to endure mango thieves because of the joy of God providing for the hungry. I want to endure getting tricked for the joy of one genuinely coming to Christ. I want to endure a church with broken people for the joy of finding one true friend in the Lord.
As we focus on Jesus, we have the opportunity to change how we see the kid stealing our mangoes. We begin to see beyond the hurt to the Healer. Our call, in these confusing moments, is to fix our eyes on Jesus.
I can change my perspective through worship. Worship moves my mind off my problems. Worship invites the presence of God and the peace that passes understanding into our most bewildering days.
Supplication Softens Stone-cold Hearts
We can pray for those who hurt us. Doing so softens our hearts so anger can no longer make its bed in us. Praying replaces bitterness with compassion.
I like myself better when I am a sympathetic friend instead of cold and bitter, yelling at imaginary kids stealing the mangoes. We pray for others in order to keep our own hearts lithe. God may even give us insights into our own situation. He shows us when we need to adjust our glasses or look at things in a new way.
Perspective brings freedom. We can focus on Jesus and His goodness instead of letting negative emotions in tiring moments control us.