Most afternoons you will find me walking my neighbourhood for at least thirty minutes. Sometimes I walk alone with my iPod. Other times my daughter joins me. Walking for me is not only a great form of exercise but a way to clear my thoughts. It is a freedom I do not have overseas where walking is just a form of transportation, and you have to be on high alert to your surroundings. The neighbourhood where we are staying here in America is in the cultural section of town with streets filled with quaint little houses complete with a front porch containing two chairs and a table in between. As W and I walk, we often observe the fairytale-like houses and wonder if we could live there or not. One day as W and I were meandering the neighbourhood, W commented on never noticing one of the houses and its cute yard even though we had walked past it many times. It was then that I realised we had always walked on the other side of the street. By walking on this side, we had a whole new perspective of the houses and yards. It was like walking on a different yet still familiar street. We noticed things we had not seen before even though they were always there. The old became new.
Living overseas has been like that for us. We see things differently. We appreciate things more. We breathe more deeply and hold things more loosely. Hopefully it has made us slower to pass judgement and quicker to see things from someone else's point of view. It has made us more wary of technology and caused us to crave more face-to-face interaction. We see anew and struggle with the challenges of so many distractions and being able to choose wisely how to use our time.
On the other hand, being back on this side of the ocean has shown me how I needed time to rest, refresh, and regroup. Before we left, I would have said I was in a good place. It had been a good summer of learning and resting after a long school year. After landing in America, I realised maybe I wasn't as healthy as I thought I was. What I thought was thriving was more like surviving. Thankfully this past fall was full of time with God, time with friends, and time just soaking in the word with other believers. It was just what I needed.
Seeing things from the other side of the street works great in relationships. So often I only see things from my side. It is about what I want and what I need. When I take the time to step back and think about the other person's motives or what is going on in his or her life, when I look at him or her from the other side of the street, I am less likely to be judgemental. I am also less likely to get as frustrated. Instead I find myself extending more grace. I think that is why it says in James that I am to be slow to anger and quick to listen. When I am quick to anger and slow to listen, I am not able to see the situation as clearly. I am not seeing things from the other side of the street. Especially with teens, I am finding I need to step back more and react less. Seeing things from the other side of the street provides more perspective and less conflict.
So my challenge to you is in what area or with whom do you need to look at from the other side of the street? My goal this year is to go deeper. I know I can only do that in relationships when I take the time to see them from the other side of the street especially when it involves the teenagers who live in my house.