Patterns

All around us are patterns. Patterns appear everywhere, even when they don’t. We are pattern creatures. Our brains are designed to look for patterns. Our brains examine and recognize thousands of faces. We see patterns in nature: in petals of flowers; sections of leaves; and in the structure of a snowflake. Our bent for patterns even allows us to see patterns where none exist. In the chaotic drifting of clouds, we often amuse ourselves picking out recognizable patterns.

We often find comfort in regular patterns in our lives, even when those patterns produce negative circumstances. We are sometimes afraid to move away from known circumstances that are unhealthy because we cannot be sure what change will bring, even when change might be positive. When we notice patterns in our lives where people care about us and build us up, where people show us that we are supported and loved, we feel more comfortable in changing our circumstances for the better. That is why we need to see and feel patterns that convince us that there are better alternatives. Negative patterns can be broken. When we recognize things are better, we need to be appreciative and thankful.

We need to recognize those patterns not only in our own lives but in the lives of those around us. It is so frustrating to try to help someone who seemingly does not want to be helped. It might be they are too fearful to attempt change. It might be they are too wrapped up in their negative pattern to see a way out. It might even be that they do not want to be helped. Early on, like many, I had to learn that you cannot change anyone, they must change themselves. I also had to learn that I did not always know what is best for them because of the limitations of my own experience. Because of those lessons, I had to learn that there are many that I am not able to help, that I might not be the one placed in their lives to lift them up. But, I just might be the seed that allows them to accept the one person who can.

When positive patterns  that we are comfortable with change, it can be disconcerting. When time set aside for sharing seems to end or slip away, it can leave one  to wonder why the pattern changed. What changed? Can we recapture it or make it better? Does it mark a time for growth or alert us to a problem that needs attention? Is it our time to move on?

Opposites or contrast can help us appreciate patterns. The Bible is filled with contrast: choose this not that; do this not that; wise vs. foolish; good vs. bad; positive vs. negative. Even our tastes are defined by contrast. We expect cookies to be sweet because the pattern has been that all the cookies we eat are sweet. We know sweet because we have tasted sour or bitter. We were trained by the patterns of our experience.

Habits are like patterns. They repeat and establish an expectation. I encourage us all to look for the blessings in life and be thankful for the gifts that abound whether it be God, nature or human endeavor. Your daily actions establish the pattern of who you are. Let that pattern be a positive one.

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