Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Filter Matters

In today's social media savvy world, I hardly have to convince Instagram users how much filters impact an Instagram post. Whether you prefer "Hudson" or "Lo-Fi", chances are you have used a filter on at least one of your uploaded photos to make it look better. And, if you are one of those #nofilter people - the true photographers on Instagram that believe that filters taint 
the purity of their art - you are still likely to recognize that having a filter 
(or not having it, in this case) 
has the power to significantly affect how an image is perceived. 

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my uncle about a vast array of topics. He is an incredibly wise and hilarious and down-to-earth guy with 
loads of life experience and valuable things to say... 
the kind of guy that you really hope will show up to family gatherings.  

One of the topics my uncle hit on was filters. But not the Instagram kind. Instead, he talked about how we select which filters through 
which we will perceive our own lives. 

We should choose to filter our experiences through truth. 

We should not choose to filter truth through our experiences. 

It is true, for example, that I am a gifted runner. Now, it would be easy for me to filter that piece of truth through my experiences and talk myself out of that truth. I could compare myself to some other very talented runners on my own team, for example, and in doing so remember that I am not nearly as  gifted as them and come to the conclusion that I am not gifted. Or I could dwell on experiences I have had that suggest I am not a gifted runner... such as that bad race I had that one time or the workout I almost failed to complete. 

But I have been blessed to make it to the collegiate level as a runner. So the truth is that I have some amount of gifting in this sport. It does not matter what that gifting is compared to my teammates or that I struggled with that workout last week. The truth matters, and the truth is that I have been gifted with something (be it determination, endurance, or just refusal to give up..) 
that helps me to do well in this sport. 

So, let's try it the other way. If I have a bad experience (such as a bad race), but choose to filter it through truth (that I am a gifted runner), I am able to look at the situation with clarity and balance. Instead of spiraling into negativity and believing that I am a failure as an athlete, I should be able to look at my race critically to discern which areas I can improve upon - 
without loosing all of my confidence. 

This concept makes the most sense to me when I think about spiritual truths. 
Truth: I am a child of God. Truth 2: My identity is in Jesus. 

Experience: I fail at something, or I loose a job, or I speak harshly to a friend. 

Instead of dwelling on these experiences and making them my filters... 
leading to feelings of  discouragement and condemnation... 
I need to filter them through TRUTH 
and see that my mistakes are not my identity. 

The filter matters. It changes the way we perceive the world. 
The filter matters.