Seeing Others the Way God Sees Them

Seeing Others The Way God Sees You


Every decision I saw her make was wrong. She couldn’t hold a job, so she sponged off friends and family for a place to stay. She spent years doing drugs and never finished a basic education. If she had money, it went toward unhealthy and frivolous purchases. I could give a laundry list of her poor choices in the last few years. In a chance meeting with an old friend, our conversation quickly turned to inquiry. “How is Jenna doing?”

This is an excerpt from Living in Your True Identity

I sighed. The typically frustrated sigh of a family member who is tired and saddened by the choices of someone they love. “She’s stuck. Her life is stuck. Nothing she does ever brings her out of her patterns.” I went on to detail the latest poor choices in Jenna’s life, and we both expressed sorrow to see a life so wasted. The conversation stayed with me on the drive home, my words echoing in my ears, and a growing feeling of guilt washed over me. Nothing I said was intended to create gossip or to hurt Jenna; nonetheless, I regretted my words and felt an eerie sense of contribution to Jenna’s choices. She makes her own choices, I said defensively in my mind. You’re contributing to the problem, a voice seemed to say. Your view of her is just as limiting as her own view of herself.

A surge of heat flushed my skin as I felt the shame in those words. The very idea that my own image of Jenna could actually be influencing her life. Every limiting and judgmental word I spoke or thought in my mind contributed to the negative energy that already surrounded her daily existence. I could hardly breathe at the very thought of it. I don’t want to do that anymore, I admitted silently. I’ d rather be a positive influence. But how? How do I learn to sincerely see something better, when the facts are anything but positive?

Empowerment Tool #8: Vision Journal

I spent the next few days meditating on this question when an idea arose that changed everything—write a journal entry dated in the future describing her life after making positive changes. Immediately I began to write, and watched my image of Jenna transform:

Jenna is doing amazing. I am so happy to see the empowerment that has come into her life. She loves her new job and is making valuable friendships, acquiring new skills, and everyone gets a delightful taste of her humor. It’s so exciting to see how she has come into her own. Working has given her confidence in herself, and she is using her natural gifts and talents that for years went unnoticed but now are flourishing. People love to be around her because she makes them laugh and brightens the mundane routine of life. Best of all, I am so happy to see how her view of herself has changed. She knows who she is and what she is capable of. She is courageous. She knows what it means to fight temptation and win. She is using her past experiences to help other people get back on the right path in their own lives. She is a hero to me and I admire her triumph. I am blessed to know her and have her in my life.

I wrote several pages, moved by the clarity of vision I was creating. The exercise did more than change my feelings toward her—it made me see her differently and love her differently. I saw her potential in the most marvelous way—so powerful, in fact, that I could feel it and, most importantly, I deeply believed it.

I’ve been taught my whole life about the importance of seeing others the way God sees them. The principle is important. But knowing how to do it has always felt elusive and vague. Until now, I had never experienced such a clear reality of what that may feel like. Many times since, I have used this tool to create a new vision for others and for myself.

How you see others can change their lives. I know this to be true from my own experience. Among the most influential people in my life, all of them have something in common: They see my potential. They believe in me. They see what I can do and become, even when I can’t. And, most importantly, they treat me like I have already become that person.

One such person was my college music professor, Dr. Dean Madsen. Every week, I would leave my private lesson with him feeling like I could change the world. Some weeks, I would enter his office in tears and discouragement, yet I would always leave with increased faith and purpose. He consistently expressed the potential he saw in me and described the impact my work would have on the world.

Even though I couldn’t see those qualities in myself, I leaned on his faith. I trusted him because I knew he loved me. I believed his words, because he believed them. I began to work and act like the person he described. Our ability to see the potential in another truly can change their lives.

It’s human nature to see the flaws, to define people by their choices. When it is our family member, child, spouse, parent, or close friend, it is all the more important to truly form a clear picture of the potential they carry within, as our interactions with them are remarkably influential. People know when we don’t believe in them. And just as powerfully, they know when we do.

C. S. Lewis carries this vision even further in his book The Weight of Glory, saying:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. . . . Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperOne, 1980), 45–46.)

There are no ordinary people. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God, with each person holding equal potential to become a god or goddess in His kingdom.

Surely, God sees us differently than we see ourselves and differently than we often see one another. 

This is an excerpt from Living in Your True Identity

Empowerment Tool #9: See Freedom

So how does one see the way God sees? Must I create a vision journal entry for every person I stumble upon? What about the person who cuts me off in traffic? The irritable neighbor across the street? The politician whose words and actions appear thoughtless or self-serving? The girl on social media whose life seems perfect and untouchable? The friend or family member whose love and approval I can never seem to win? How do I see each person with such potential and love when what I feel is the opposite?

I must see them in their freedom. Free from fear. Free from anxiety. Free from addiction. Free from bad choices. Free from anger. Free from childhood trauma. Free from selfishness. Free from boasting. Free from disease. Free from a closed mind. Free from a closed heart. Free from worry. Free from limited beliefs. Free from abuse. Free from depression. Free from delusion. Free from disability. Free from betrayal. Free from sin. Free from pain. Free from suffering. In this freedom lies the truth. The truth of who you are, the truth of who she is, the truth of who he is. What does that freedom look like? Can you see how she (or he) looks when you free her from all that holds her true identity back? There was a moment long ago when she was free of everything. In the delightful gaze and wonder as a new infant, she entered this world free. Is she not the same person? Are we not created eternally?

The purpose of this life is to learn and gain experience. Our experiences do not define who we are or what we are worth. They are only opportunities for growth. 

Just like the acorn, we always hold the potential inside to grow into a mighty oak. The seed may be sitting atop the ground, and perhaps roughed with dirt, but we nevertheless still hold everything inside to become a mighty tree. Always, the potential is there. It is who we are.

To see one another in freedom is to see the way God sees. The very act of the Atonement of Jesus Christ was an act of freedom:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance. (Alma 7:11–13)

Jesus Christ took upon him every sin, pain, sickness, and infirmity for you and for me so we could be free. Surely, He saw us in our freedom. Surely, this vision of who we really truly are—free from all that binds us in this life—moved Him to fulfill His divine sacrifice.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Whom do you see as a true friend in your life? Indeed, someone who loves you, and sees the freedom in you. Jesus continues saying, “Ye are my friends” (vs. 14).

We become free once more when we claim the Atonement for ourselves, just as the apostle Paul decreed, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Free yourself from this bondage, free others from this bondage. See the freedom within.

This is an excerpt from Living in Your True Identity