I had my kids posing for a picture downtown Chicago, when a kind stranger stopped and offered to let me get in the picture. As I handed him my iPhone, he said, “Oh… you’ll have to show me how.” So I quickly pointed out the ‘button’ on the screen to tap, and went to join the kids.
When we looked up, the sight before us triggered more than just staged smiles.
The man had turned the phone around backward, and had his eye up to the camera lens–in the way you would hold a point-and-shoot camera–and the result was hilarious.
The screen against his cheek displayed a giant, blown up eye. Even funnier, his eye had an expression of such confusion!
Even writing this a day later, I am doubled over in laughter, remembering what he looked like. It was that funny.
Composing myself, I went and showed the poor guy how to turn the phone around and hold the screen out in front of him to take the picture. He smiled amiably and said, “Oh, I see! I’m just an old guy…”
Humor aside, this is such a great picture of conflict. In conflict, we always find ourselves facing the guy with the blown up error. It’s so obvious that he has it backward. It’s even comical that he can’t see it.
But to him, it’s not backward. He’s confused. He was just trying to help. If the conflict is sharp, he’s not nearly as amiable as the guy on the street. He’s defensive. He doesn’t understand why he’s the one under the microscope. Why is everyone blowing up his error? He can’t even see that he’s done anything wrong.
This is the making of a conflict. To solve it, the Bible asks a question:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
The answer to this question is simple. We can only see our brother’s eye when we’re only looking at our brother’s eye. God says the way to solve the conflict is to flip the camera around on ourselves. Even when the source of the problem seems infinitely clear and obvious–to the point that we feel we could do eye surgery on the other guy, we must first stop and point the zoom lens at ourselves.
Maybe we have something backward. Maybe we have some error that is equally obvious and blown up. We can’t see it if we won’t look. To solve conflict, we must get on the other guy’s side of the lens. We need to look at ourselves from his vantage point.
If we come around to his side, it will help him come around to ours.