Behind the Lens

A couple of years ago I was sitting in traffic when I noticed a sticker on the rear window of the car in front of me. It was an abstract sort of design and it wasn’t immediately clear what the sticker was supposed to represent. But owing to a particularly long traffic signal I was finally able to discern the image of a pregnant lady. She had a rounded belly with her hands on her aching back, her head was slightly downturned (looking at her belly, perhaps), and her hair was a bit wild. I’ve been pregnant before and I could totally remember that phase. Your back hurts and you’re tired, and if you have other kids the wild hair is a given. Even if it’s your first pregnancy sometimes the hormones can affect your hair, rendering it nearly unrecognizable. I almost wanted to roll down my window and shout something like, “Solidarity, Sister!” but I refrained. In fact, the more I looked at it the more I could see a crown on top of the head. Because of course it was a crown.

Over the next couple of months I noticed more and more of those stickers in different colors and patterns. I wasn’t sure why the sudden show of support for pregnant mothers – after all, women have been carrying babies in their bellies for thousands of years – but it was kind of cool. Yeah! It’s about time mothers got the attention they deserve!

Then came the day I was driving my oldest daughter somewhere and we found ourselves behind a car with one of those stickers. I pointed it out to her and commented that I might want to get one myself. You know, to celebrate motherhood. She gave me the side eye, trying to decide if I was serious or not, and then she laughed. And laughed, and laughed, until she was tearing up and gasping for breath. In fact, guffawed is probably a more accurate word than laughed.

“Mom. That’s not a pregnant woman.”

This is the sticker to which I am referring:


Now admit it: you can see why I thought it was a pregnant lady.

Of course now I know it’s the Browning logo, which is in the shape of a deer’s head looking backward. What I thought was hair (or a crown) is actually antlers, head=ear, belly=neck, and those hands pressed into an aching back are actually the deer’s nose.

Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait right here.

Are you finished? Let’s move on.

(But it could totally be a pregnant woman. I’m just saying.)

Let’s just talk for a minute about WHY I saw one thing and not what was intended.

:I was viewing that sticker through the lens of my unique life experience. I am a mother of three and it is a huge part of how I see myself. I have never been a hunter (huntress?), or an outdoorsman (outdoorsperson?). Much like the ink blots in the test conducted by psychiatrists, I related what I saw to my own personal experience. When I see a round belly, or what looks like one, it reminds me of my pregnancies. In a similar vein, I have a habit of matching new friends up to old ones. Or shall I say “friends I have known longer”? And if a new person reminds me of someone I know and like, somehow it rubs off. I tend to like you already!

Because each person is a one of a kind creation of God’s, each of us views life through the lens of our own life experiences. And unless you are a middle aged mother of three girls who was born in the South, married young and divorced, then married again to a Yankee, reads like it’s my job, and cannot stand seafood, you probably won’t see things the way I do. Even if you do meet all those criteria, there are thousands more things that we don’t have in common that may mean we see life differently.

Nowhere is this more evident than on social media right now. State an opinion and among the 253 responses you will find 253 opinions of your opinion. And far too often each person is convinced that their opinion is the only right one, never considering that someone else might see a pregnant woman instead of the deer that’s intended.

It’s true in parenting, marriage, work, ministry – anywhere you gather two or more people together, you get two or more sets of life experiences and therefore, opinions. And it’s very hard to step out from behind my own lens to see things from where you might be standing behind your lens, but it is so very necessary.

Because while God created us all to be unique, He also told us to love one another and I believe that love walks hand in hand with acceptance. Not just tolerance, but acceptance. Accepting that my view is not the only one, and actively seeking to see things from another point of view, for instance. Accepting that I might just be wrong about what I think I’m seeing. Keeping an open mind and heart for what God might want to say to me through another of His creations. Recognizing that there might be more than one way to see it, or that I may not see the whole picture.

Now every time you see one of the Browning stickers on the back of a car, maybe you’llĀ  find yourself thinking, “pregnant woman with back pain and hair issues”. You’re welcome for that. May it remind you that oftentimes there is more to a thing than we see at first.

And if you smile at my silliness, that’s okay too.