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John reminds us that what we seek- good or bad- is usually what we find.

Several years ago, I was getting ready for work when my son, Jack, walked into the bathroom as I was shaving. As a five-year-old boy, he stood next to me for a while pretending he, too, was getting rid of the “stubble” on his cheeks. But then he stopped pretending and began gently touching the scars that cover my torso.

These are the deep red scars, with ridges and lumps that traverse my stomach. These are the scars that even today I often avoid looking at because they’re just too painful. These are the scars that remind me of all I went through and would rather forget.

But on this day Jack traced with his little finger the scars that are evidence of all I’ve gone through in my life. And he said:

“Daddy?”

“Yeah, bud?”

There was a long pause as he continued tracing his finger along the scars and slowly said, “Your tummy is red… it’s bumpy… and it’s ridgy…”

Little Jack stopped his sentence, but kept tracing the scars.

During that pause, I prepared to let him know that Dad might be different, but that it was okay. That I was burned as a kid, but it was fine. I readied to explain away what I imagined to be his fear and anxiety. Before I assuaged his alarm, Jack added:

“And Daddy, I love it! I just love your red, bumpy, ridgy tummy!”

Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that.

Jack somehow saw beauty, hope, and even joy in those scars. He saw what made me different, as something that didn’t negatively define me. He saw something that could easily be perceived as ugly, as something that set me apart and somehow made me even more lovable.

So, my friends, when you look at your life, what do see? When you read the headlines, what leaps off at you? While you visit with family, or work with colleagues or commute through life, what do you see?

It turns out what we choose to see matters.

If we look for negativity, divisiveness, ugliness and evidence of mean-spiritedness, we’ll find it everywhere. Conversely, when we seek opportunity, unity, beauty and evidence of people doing good, we find it everywhere.

What we seek, we find.

Choose today to be honest enough to identify brokenness within your life, but courageous enough to make it better. Choose to see intensifying wrinkles and a growing waistline not merely as evidence of advancing age, but as indication of greater wisdom and further validation of the miracle of your life.

Choose to embrace the disappointments and setbacks as opportunities to learn important lessons, a chance to turn a page and the impetus to begin writing a new, even more beautiful chapter in your life.

Choosing to see life like this doesn’t make challenges fade. It just ensures the next time you glance into a mirror, struggle in a relationship or feel discouraged by life you can honestly proclaim, “It may be red, it may be bumpy, it may be ridgy, it may be far from perfect…but I love it.”

And that kind of perspective not only changes what you see, but also what happens next in life.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

4 replies on “What Do You See?”

After hearing you speak at a conference a few months ago, I reflected on my life ever since. I also played with gasoline in the drain of a driveway. My luck came into play when the flames engulfed my head and shoulders but never ignited the container. My skin was red and most of my hair was singed, nothing to the extent of your injuries. I had not thought about it again it until I heard your story. It also prompted me to ask, “Why me”? I have read your book and continue to be Inspired by you. You have changed my life and many others. Thank you. BTW- Still so impressed with your piano skills.

Thank you for sharing. Very timely. I’ve received such insight and joy from your podcasts (and have passed many of then along to others I know who would benefit).
I appreciate you and your content.
God bless you and have a wondedrful week!

John,
My wife and I are watching the funeral and procession of Queen Elizabeth II while on holiday.
Whilst we could be mournful and sad we see the celebration of a life well lived for others. As your message recites, we can find joy in the day.- thank you for today’s message.
I look forward to meeting you at our RCA Annual meeting in March in Dallas.

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.