A story is told of Pablo Picasso riding on a train when a man approached him and asked him why, as a famous painter, he did not paint people “the way they really are.” Picasso asked the man what he meant by that expression.
The man opened his wallet and took out a snapshot of his wife, saying, “That’s my wife.”
Picasso responded, “Isn’t she rather small and flat?”
Most of us live and work with flat people and fail to realize that our limited perception misses the realms of possibility and wonder hidden within. Seeing people the way they really are is impossible, but we can see them as more than flat.
Usually we form a quick opinion of a person gleaned from a few interactions with him or her. That information is then filtered through what others have told us about the individual. As time goes on, we view this person through the stories we ingrain within—stories based on what we continue to hear and experience of his or her actions and life events.
Some of these stories are good, and some are not, but all stories are limited, since we cannot know a person’s thoughts, motives, hopes, dreams, or the details of the past that have shaped his personality.
Without realizing it, we trap ourselves into certain patterns and ways of thinking concerning the people around us. We see only what we are inclined to see derived from our interpretation of the stories we’ve collected about them in our mental file cabinet.
Finding the Holy in the daily often means looking at people through new glasses—seeing the wonder that God has placed within them, finding the unexpected sparkle behind their story, and assuming the best about them.
Are the people around you flat? Are there aspects to their stories you are missing? How can you change the way you interpret these people?
In Him together, Susan Gaddis
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I love this post. 🙂
Yes, living here I find many people “read into me” based on their limited experiences or perceptions of geography/culture or just biases. Coming from California, I must be liberal, gay, rebellious, etc. As a result, friendships can’t develop or are rather shaky.
I had one Christian lady who wanted to feel my hand so she could sense if I were a good person or not. I wasn’t sure what planet she came from, but aren’t we to discern good and evil?
1 Cor 12 talks about how we are different parts of the body. If we want everyone to be the same part as we are, we will have fellowship with a two-dimenisonal body — flat. God gave us variety in the body, and being able to realize that he has purposely brought us together with all our differences will enrichen our lives.