Friday, July 5, 2019

Mailboxes and Funhouse Mirrors: How Do We See Ourselves?

I recently built a new flowerbed around the mailbox at my house.  We live on a bit of hill, so I had to remove some dirt.  I laid some stones and then filled in with some fresh garden soil.  I also painted our mailbox and the mailbox post.  My wife planted some flowers in the bed, and it looked pretty good. However, the first picture that my wife took of our work was taken in such a way that the mailbox looked very crooked.  Our mailbox is not perfectly straight, but this photo made it look like it was leaning way off to one side.  When others looked at the flowerbed, there were comments about the flower bed, but many observed that the mailbox needed some attention.  I said the mailbox was not as bad as the picture might indicate, but the comments continued with things like, “pictures don’t lie”.  However, in this case, the picture did lie.  I later shared a photo taken from a different angle to verify this. 

I could not help thinking about how many times in our lives, we are living our lives as best we can, but when people look from the outside, their perspective is such that they only see what they perceive are the imperfections.  Those perceived flaws of our lives become the predominant feature that people see in us and the other work we do, or different perspectives are not considered (and, in fact, may be ignored when presented).  It is important for us to have people in our lives who can give us accurate reflection and feedback about who we really are.  We must realize that sometimes other have a perception of us that is skewed by their perceptions (biases, prejudices, experiences, etc.)   At times when we have such people in our lives, we begin to believe that the altered image of us is truly what we look like.  We must, however, realize that the image reflected to us is like funhouse mirror image of ourselves.  A true friend can show us that our “mailboxes” are not perfectly straight, but they are not leaning over as much as others might have us believe.  Certainly, we want to keep working on being the best versions of ourselves, but we want people who can help us see a realistic version of ourselves while loving us in our becoming.  We need to be able to resist believing the distorted images of ourselves that others might offer. 

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