‘I want to use the dragon soap,’ our youngest informed me.
Now, we’re all about encouraging our littlest lady to embrace hand washing after trips to the bathroom, but suggesting mythical beasts are living in the soap isn’t a road we’ve gone down. So, despite being a bit confused, in the interests of getting out the door on time and humouring the three year old, I smiled, nodded and simply enjoyed the fact that she was embracing the notion of hygiene without a preceding battle.
Return trips to the bathroom continued to create the same response ( cue smug mother moment: yes, she does like to wash her hands and we never need to drag her back to the basin kicking and screaming (nope, not even this evening when not even the prospect of seeing a fire breathing beast in the bath would have enticed her to stay without some ‘persuasion’) and so, my curiosity was fuelled and I made some further enquiries. A couple of well – placed questions later and it all became clear.
The bottle of ordinary, everyday liquid soap that has been catching the eye of our little hygiene enthusiast (oh who am I kidding?) is now firmly known in our house as Dragon Soap. How did she come up with this? Turns out, the fishy logo (googled it to check for sure) that I had honestly originally seen as a swirly thing to begin with? She saw as a dragon.
Life can be a bit like that too, I think. We all come at life from a range of perspectives. We are all very different people: our homes, lives, backgrounds, experiences, thoughts, likes and dislikes (to name but a few) are what make us individuals so, I suppose it’s not really surprising that we see and interpret things in a variety of ways. And, while that is part of what adds to the colour and tapestry of life, it can also be a source of so many tensions.
In an age when social media, and technology in general, make it incredibly easy to share our thoughts and opinions (for example, this, if you happen to be reading it!) we are very aware that no matter the topic you name, it is unlikely that even a small group of people will see it in exactly the same way. I suppose the most difficult part is what follows though, since while people having different views is one thing, it’s how we react to these views that are different to ours which cause the biggest problem.
While having a bit of a moan last week about something that (I quote) ‘really bugs me’, as I talked (ranted) my unfortunate listener made a few points which gave me a different perspective on the matter and I was reminded that one person’s delight is another’s dread. In those moments, while I still had my own personal reasons for the points I had made, I left the discussion with a different mindset to the one I had started with. My perspective was shifted and I’m glad, because it can be incredibly easy to get so caught up in our own views that we refuse to consider how other people see things.
Do I think that we should listen to what others say and if they offer a different viewpoint, change our minds about things we feel strongly about? Not at all. But, I do think that by listening to what others say and taking a moment to think about how others see things, can help us to have a greater empathy and understanding of where other people are coming from. After all, we are ourselves the polar opposite of someone else out there and I daresay we would want them to be willing to listen to us, even if we were never going to see eye to eye on everything or agree with us.
I live with the personification of a devil’s advocate and, while there are times I wish he didn’t feel the need to see things from about forty different perspectives, while encouraging me to do the same (what can I say, he’s a brave man!) over the years, it has helped me to look at the world through different eyes (but don’t tell him that!😉).
I look at our current political situation in Northern Ireland and, I can’t help but wish our politicians would take some time to see the world through different eyes – I don’t expect them all to become BFFs but, imagine the progress if we could learn to accept that difference will alway be there, but it’s how we move forward in spite of this, which is much like the advice we give the kids when their individual issues lead to a communication breakdown and we want them to work through it regardless.
Over the past week, as I thought about how seeing eye to eye is actually quite rare, I was challenged to consider how I deal with things I disagree with. I’ve been reading ‘Goliath Must Fall’ by Louie Giglio (and highly recommend it!) and read how: ‘Paul says in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is the same guy who had rocks thrown at him. More than once he was beaten with rods. Five times he was whipped within an inch of his life. Yet he doesn’t call for revenge. He calls for peace.’
From a personal perspective? That’s not easy, but, it’s definitely what we’re called to do, whether we like it or not. Louie Giglio goes on to write: ‘… you’ve got to let go. You’ve got to let God shift the tide of your heart. You’ve got to release the resentment. You’ve got to release the burden from your back…’ something we cannot do in our own strength.
We encourage our children to show kindness to others, to avoid being rude or getting angry with the people they come into contact with regardless of their views and opinions and yet, out of their earshot, so often we vent our anger and frustration, which, while a useful outlet at times, can become a fixation which we struggle to see beyond. But I think there is hope.
I believe that prayer is an integral part of the day and while there are times that this can happen quite easily, in the heat of temper, or in moments of feeling misunderstood or upset, this can be so much harder to remember. My own personal goal for the future, is to take those issues, those things that ‘push my buttons’ and turn them immediately into prayer. To hand my angers, upsets and ‘but that’s not the way I see it’ things over to God, seeking His divine power to help me deal with something that I am incapable of handling in the best possible way, in my own strength.
I need His strength to help with my weakness. To help me speak in love, act in love and consider others, including those with opinions that are different to mine. We don’t have to agree, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live at peace. If anything, I believe that the more we accept that we are all totally different, remembering that just as we see differences in others, so others see differences in us.
We were created differently on purpose, for a purpose, which is why we have differences in the first place. And, whether we like it or not, we all do. It’s funny though, because while our little one’s perception of what she believed she was wasn’t how I had seen the soap prior to that, I do see it now. And, I’m not gonna lie, handwashing has taken on a whole new dimension for me; just like life, people and the world around us do es whenever we see things through different eyes.
There was no dragon on the soap, but it’s what she saw and, in listening to her take on this soapy situation, it opened my eyes to see things in a new way as well. It didn’t mean I believed there now was a dragon on our soap, but I understood why she believed there was.
No doubt, as she gets older and experiences life in different ways, she’ll probably see the ‘dragon’ in a different way but then, isn’t that how our experiences in this world can be? We see things one way, until someone opens our eyes to see things the way they do. It doesn’t have to change us, but it helps us to empathise and understand a little more where other people are coming from, something I know I really appreciate when someone does it for me.
This world can be a difficult and even frightening place sometimes, but when we allow ourselves to see others as the unique individuals that they are, remembering that we fit into that ‘unique individual’ category too, I believe it allows us to show that we value each other as those unique individuals we were created to be and as a result, brings a whole new angle to the way we see this world we share.
So, whatever conflicting situations you may find yourself in, take a moment to remember that your views are as different to another person as theirs are to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to think about where they are coming from. It’s sure to help you to see things a little differently and who knows, you might even find a dragon on your soap too.