Have you ever tried to describe a color? I don’t think about this often, but every once in awhile I am reminded that just because two people are LOOKING at the same thing does not mean that they SEE the same thing. A few weeks ago my son was showing me his latest drawing (as a nine year old Marvel fan he has a lot of drawings) and I commented on his use of color. I told him that I really liked how he used Yellow to highlight some of his characters. He said it was Orange. Clearly it was Yellow but he would not be convinced because I am the dad and what would I know?! When he showed me the Crayon though, it was in fact labeled as Orange! I hate it when the Crayon factory makes mistakes.

To my credit, it was very light orange. And again I was reminded that just because two people  are LOOKING at the same thing does not mean that they SEE the same thing. I am sure there are many applications here, but this was a good reminder that we should not be too hard on those around us when they see or respond to the world different than we might.

We process life through:

-Past experiences

-Current Circumstances

-Relational and Emotional Stress

-Hopes for the future

-And a thousand other unique qualities that are as different as the people they represent.

This is why empathy is so difficult. Describing how we feel and what we think to another person can be as difficult as describing a color-if you are not viewing it with the same eye (those collective experiences) it will never be exactly the same.

Perhaps it would be better if, instead of living convinced that everyone else is reading the wrapper on the crayon wrong, we did our best to see things from the perspective of others and give grace instead of judgment when we see things just a little bit different.

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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