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Choosing to See

Posted on: May 24th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 1 Comment

And truth was this: we can choose to see and focus on the good in life and in the people around us, or we can choose to see and focus only on the bad.

Abraham Lincoln, one of my all-time heroes, once said, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” And I do believe Lincoln was right. After all, we do live in a fallen world.

Yet, I also believe the opposite is true. If you look for the good in others, I think you’ll find it as well.

While it is true that we are sinners in need of grace, it is also true that we are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27). We were created in His likeness and image, which means that we’re a reflection (though only a dim reflection) of who God is and of His character.

Though it’s unpopular to say in some Christian circles, mankind is not completely bad.

I grew up watching the movie Pollyanna. It’s a Disney movie about a young orphaned girl who is taken in by her wealthy aunt. Before their death, Pollyanna’s parents rejected the comforts of the world to be missionaries, which gave young Pollyanna great perspective on the world.

Pollyanna moves to a small town to live with her aunt, and it seems the entire town is burdened by worry and the cares of this world. Yet, everywhere this little girl goes, she infects those around her with a joy that was previously unknown to them.

Pollyanna continually chooses to see the good in things, and she’s sure to point them out to those around her, despite their jeering remarks.

“Glad this. Glad that,” sneer the naysayers.

“What is all this glad business you talk about?”

Pollyanna’s father had taught her an amazing truth before he died, one that she seems to carry within her heart. And the truth was this: we can choose to see and focus on the good in life and in the people around us, or we can choose to see and focus only on the bad.

They’re both there. The bad and the good, that is.

You needn’t look too far to see them.

There’s sin. And there’s good works.

Depravity and virtue.

Wretchedness and blessedness.

And we get to choose what we see. What we focus on.

Now, this doesn’t mean we need to be going around with blinders on. Of course, we need to be grounded in reality. But truly, both realities exist.

As mentioned in my last post, Influence of a Thought, Paul tells us to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). He doesn’t tell us to focus on all that is bad in others, but to focus on the good. How else would it be possible to “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18), to “love one another” (John 13:34), and to forgive each other (Colossians 3:13)? All of these commands require that we lay down our pride, recognizing our own shortcomings, and see others through the eyes of Jesus, who loves them.

Now, I know Pollyanna is just a fictional tale, but the character of Pollyanna embodies so much of what we ought to be. And I believe we would all live life with a little less strife if we opened ourselves up to a mind-shift and saw others through the lens of grace.

Truly, I think we could use a few more Pollyanna’s in this world of ours.

{Choose to focus on the good in others, not the bad.}

Question: Have you seen the movie Pollyanna? What about her character stands out to you? How do you think she was able to make such an impact on those around her? Share in the comments