There's a story my Dad likes to tell of me when I was seven-years-old. He was in my older sister's room, doing some home repairs, when I walked up to the doorway and stood there for awhile. After watching him work, I asked: "Why don't you do it like this instead?" and offered him my free advice, which was a better way of doing what he was doing. Something he realized as he stared over at me and my innocent suggestion.
In all honesty, I like this story too because it makes me sound a whole lot smarter than I actually was as a kid. But, there's truth in this moment that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind lately: when we are so submersed in our own ways of being—our own fixed mindsets—we often become blind to things we can do better.
Kristen, my younger sister, went on a lot of trips this Summer. One of which included a trip to Nashville, TN, with our Uncle Steven. Among the many conversations they had on the road together — Kristen was left remembering something he said about a friend of his: "...but that's the only way she knows how to be." It makes me think about our trips to Third World countries, where we're so quick to correct. "It's better to farm like this," "treat a fever like this instead." In essence, "I know this is the only way you know, but there is a better way to do what you're doing." Until people see it, or hear it, or read it—it's all they know. So we teach them.
My mind wanders, trying to understand why we're hesitant to accept correction we're so quick to hand out. As a country, we've become increasingly medicated, isolated, depressed and obese. Distressingly so.
It's easy to look at other countries' poverty and forget our own. We're slow to admit, or even consider, there are better ways of living for us too. Ones that go beyond the swipe of a credit card. I recently heard a pastor describe his role in the community: "I'm just here to help you guys learn how to love each other better." I suppose that's always been the role of a pastor, but I've never heard it put so simply. It stayed with me, and left me reflecting on ways love needs to be learned. Maybe there were other things we should learn to do better too.
To be content with less, sacrifice time for the lonely, stop aching for approval, allow ourselves to be fully known. Maybe if we slowed down, "not confusing motion for progress" (A.W. Tower), we wouldn't know this poverty.
I like to be right. I like to believe my ways are the best ways. It's painful at times to listen to your seven-year-old daughter correct you, but she might be right. And, maybe, when we become willing to hear her, and take an unflinching look at our lives, we might find our distractions have only treated the symptoms, not the disease.
We need to consider our ways. We need to ask ourselves if there are better ways. And, if we'll be teachable.