Please welcome today’s guest writer, Becky Jen. Becky is a fresh 2016 Calvin graduate with a Literature major and a Chinese minor. She moved back to her parents’ nest in Kentwood, Michigan, and seeks full-time employment in the publishing world. In the meantime, she submits to the perils of working in a bookstore, where she succumbs to her book addiction more often than not and daily adds to an already extensive to-be-read list.
For the month of June, we asked all of our writers to include a video in their piece.
I watched a panda video clip a few weeks ago. This is a fairly frequent occurrence in the life and times of a panda enthusiast like myself. Fairly common, too, is the laughter, giddiness, and warmed heart that such snapshots produce. This particular clip did not fail to deliver.
However, it was not happiness and “Aw, look at the cute little panda cubs!” for all involved. The featured zookeeper clearly had no shortage of complaints and grudges against the fur balls.
1) The cubs block the entrance to their enclosure.
2) They play with the broom (necessary for the keeper’s task) that has been thrown over as distraction.
3) A cub climbs in and on the leaf-collecting basket, spilling the already-swept leaves. Unlike the leaves, the playful cub remains in the basket.
4) The cubs tag-team: one climbs in the basket, the other plays with the broom.
5) They discover the leaf-scooper-upper and dub it a new toy.
6) They re-discover the (now full) leaf-collecting basket. One cub dubs it a nice bed/throne combo. The basket tips. Cub and leaves spill out.
7) Cubs continue to be fascinated by the leaf-scooper-upper. They play in/on/with it while the keeper sweeps elsewhere.
8) Cubs chase after the keeper who has since wrestled the leaf-scooper-upper from them.
The weary keeper finally emerges from the battlefield, more defeated than victorious. The saga ends.
Unlike the panda keeper, my complaint list is short. My complaint (not against the heart-melting fluff balls, mind you): when working in such proximity with treasured, beloved, and adorable little creatures, can you not stop and smell the roses?! Well, maybe don’t smell the fuzzy munchkins, but pause to cuddle or play with them. That seems reasonable. Wrestle with them for fun, rather than wrestle them out of the way.
I guess it’s a matter of perspective.
To me, a panda is possibly the cutest creature to grace this earth; I view them with rose-colored, heart-shaped glasses. To the keeper, though, the cubs are an obstacle to doing her job; she views them with crystal-clear glasses (or smudged-with-perspiration-caused-by-wrestling-stubborn-panda-cub glasses) that are not blind to the frustration of panda cubs.
I suppose if I was a panda keeper, I, too, might have some of those perspiration-smudged days. The novelty of such creatures and encounters with them might wear off. Frustration with the fuzz balls might arise. Or it might not. Regardless, it’s foolish of me to believe that a panda can be anything but cute and cuddly. If I fail to see and acknowledge the less-than-cutesy aspects, I remain in a state of partiality and partial truth.
The danger of the singular perspective is neglecting the whole truth.
Regarding furry creatures, the cost of such a state is relatively small. However, regarding creatures made in the image of God—others and myself—the cost of a single perspective is great.
A single perspective stops at one label—elderly, single, introverted, Hispanic, poor, LGBTQ—merely considering the other as too different or somebody else’s responsibility.
The stumbling block of a limited perspective, however, is shattered as the other is unveiled to be someone more. A beating, yearning heart. A child, loved and created by God. The friend/enemy/brother/sister I am called to love.
The cost of a single perspective is seeing the person in front of me as the other rather than a fellow. The danger is that I remain in a state of partial truth, blind to a fuller and more accurate picture of humanity.
This is not all. A singular perspective tries to convince me that I love well. It tells me that I lead a good, upright life and have little to confess.
But the perspective of the Keeper of my soul reveals necessary truth: I am failing. I love those who are easy to love and those who love me in return; I extend grace and care when it is convenient. Like a stubborn panda cub, I am set in my own ways of following Christ and His commandments the way I want. I imagine His frustration at my getting in the way. I imagine the wrangling it requires to get me to cooperate with His plan. I am truly a fallen creature.
Another perspective, though, delivers a beautiful and blessed truth: I am a forgiven creature. The Father cleanses my sin stains over and over again. I see sinner; He sees saint. I see the faults; He sees a work in progress. I see a broken world; He who once called everything good is making everything good once more. That is Truth.
That is the beauty of perspective.
Becky Jen is a fresh 2016 Calvin graduate with a Literature major and a Chinese minor. She moved back to her parents’ nest in Kentwood, Michigan, and seeks full-time employment in the publishing world. In the meantime, she submits to the perils of working in a bookstore, where she succumbs to her book addiction more often than not and daily adds to an already extensive to-be-read list.