A Mistaken View

Pledge to avoid making judgments.

Carmen is the AMAF Coordinator for the Spanish Union of Churches. She is u pastor's wife married to Juan Lozano

Some months ago while sitting in the waiting room of my doctor's office, my eyes unconsciously rested on a picture that hung a few meters from me. The "L" shaped room didn't allow me to see the whole wall and the visual angle didn't allow me to see the total picture. Immediately that picture that I could only partially see grabbed my attention.

The canvas was approxi­mately a meter and a half long and a meter wide. It had an intense shine with brilliant, harmonious colors; however, it didn't seem to be very expressive. It seemed unfinished. The part that I could see was the enormous back end of a big dog, and it was very pretty. As I waited, I kept staring at the picture. "Why did the artist paint only the back end of the dog? What did he want to show? Why did it seem unfinished to me?" I came to my own conclusions and an­swered my own questions. "If I had been the painter, I wouldn't have done it that way. And if I was the owner of that painting, I would not have placed it in this room." How subtle is the mind and how quick to judge, even when the whole truth is not present.

I was absorbed in my thoughts when my name was called. I went into the doctor's office and began filling out the necessary patient paperwork. I forgot about the picture. After the doctor was finished, she asked me to go to the waiting room while she went to get the results of my tests. I went out and took the first empty chair. There facing me was the continu­ation of the picture, but now I could see the opposite side. What a surprise! What a beautiful picture! It was the front part of the dog. While the picture seemed incomplete before, I realized the German Shepherd was cut in two sections so that no one could completely see it in just one glance. Although I don't know much about pedigrees, it seemed to be a purebred: vivacious, noble, and expressive with its fine snout. It was powerful and well-groomed with shiny brown and black fur. His ears were erect and he stood expectantly. He looked a bit fierce and noble at the same time. All this captivated my attention for a good while.

Immediately the anecdote came to life about the incomplete picture. The missing viewpoint causes us to make mistakes about reality. We need a global vision if we want to be correctly posi­tioned. Knowing only one part causes us to jump to rash conclu­sions about others, the circum­stances, and things in general. And we can be gravely mistaken.

This is what happened to me with the dog picture. I saw it as incomplete and reacted nega­tively. I evaluated the picture from my perspective. I thought it was unfinished and I assumed some things that were incorrect and this distorted reality. While the front view of the dog was so noble and beautiful, his back end didn't say anything interesting to me.

Later I thought how we should pledge to avoid making judgements or forming opinions unless we have all the possible information about people and things. This should be the way for me to interpret life. Only in this way can I avoid being mistaken in the way I appreciate or judge others.

A similar thing happened at Calvary. The robber on one side of Jesus took hold of faith. He was sure about the future when he said, "Remember me when you come in your kingdom." How­ever, the man on the other side of the Master was skeptical. Both men had the same view, but they had different perspectives that generated contradictory  emo­tions and feelings.

Returning to the doctor's of­fice, I situated myself again before the picture. How easy it is to interpret life without the right balance, assuming views as posi­tive or negative. In both cases, I can be mistaken because things are never totally good or bad. I would like to enjoy the balance of the wise man who said, "give me neither poverty nor riches. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God" (NIV).

The apostle Paul says, "Do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen." I am going to gently correct those who use this text to express their scorn for life. Those who look at what they can see (the reality of our life) look at it as a platform to accede what they do not see, that is to say, our eternal perspective. Both are complimen­tary and necessary. Blending the present view in Jesus Christ with the eternal perspective with Jesus Christ always gives our existence a new and hopeful meaning.

I aim, with God's help, to balance serenity in face of some­times dramatic aspects of life. I propose to look at the dog's head, or the good side of people and things, to support positive feel­ings, and to have greater confi­dence in others. Adopting a positive attitude doesn't mean living in an imaginary, utopia realm. It means, rather, that we don't forget hard reality, but we should find balance in the good side of people and things. In front of pessimism and adversities, we place our hope in the life and salvation of Jesus Christ and contemplate a renewed horizon of hope.