I am white. Female. Straight. American. Christian. I live in a middle/upper-middle class neighborhood, in a cookie-cutter house. I am educated. Bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree. My whole life is experienced through this lens.
We all experience life through a different lens; shaped by our upbringing, molded by our experiences. We all walk along a path. Some of us walk the straight and narrow (me). Others are on a winding road, going up the mountains and down into the valleys. Others walk in circles, having to re-experience, re-learn, redo parts of their lives over and over again. But our perspective is limited to the paths we walk upon.
I admit, I often stay on my paved, comfortable road; a straight line from point A to point B. I am type A. I like things neat and organized. No surprises. Not much risk. But there’s this part of me, down in my soul’s depth, that wants to going exploring; to veer off on a dirt path, barely noticeable from my current vantage point. Where does it go? Who might I meet? What could I learn? How would my current lens change?
I think we miss out when we only surround ourselves with people “just like us”, walking the same path. I know what life looks like through my Christian lens, but what about the Jew or the Muslim or the Buddhist. What do they see? What do they hear? What touches their hearts? How do they pray? How do they experience God? What has their faith taught them? What would I learn if I joined them, for a time, on their path? Not to change my own faith, but to add to it.
I often sit in my own little box, and from it, make judgments about the world; judgements about people. But I only have so much information I can gather, sitting at a distance, in my box. I can tell you the color of a person’s skin. I can, perhaps, tell you whether they have a tattoo or if their nose is pierced. I can tell you about their hair color: black, brown, blonde, or purple-dyed. My mind creates a story about this person, based solely on their appearance. With time, I have learned that the story I create is often wrong. It is when we get to know the heart of a person that we find understanding. Every encounter we have changes us, and in turn, changes the lens through which we see the world.
If this blog is to be a place to promote connection and truth and honesty and vulnerability, I need to venture out, off the straight and narrow. There’s only so much I can share about my life, and the paths I’ve journeyed, but my stories are minuscule fragments of all the stories that make up the totality of life.
My desire is to find people willing to share their stories; to share their life through a lens unlike my own. If, and when, I have the privilege to sit with these souls, I want to share their stories here. I want us all to learn and grow and connect on a deeper level.