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Tip of the Iceberg: How Much Do We Really See?

Most grown people are like icebergs, three-tenths showing, seven-tenths submerged-that is why a collision with one of them is unexpectedly hurtful.  Rumer Godden

Icebergs are much like people; the observer sees very little of all that is there. In view, only 10-20% of the iceberg sits above the surface of the deep. Even the largest iceberg on record, standing 55-stories above sea level, has a much larger mass below the ocean’s surface.  One iceberg measured in 1995 was 48 miles long, 23 miles wide, and 600 feet thick, yet those measurements were just “the tip on the iceberg!”

When we look at the lives of those around us, we may see that they possess things that we ourselves desire: fulfilling careers, well-adjusted children, doting spouses, or money for every fine thing in life. We look at them and wonder why they do not seem happy or satisfied with their experiences—surely we would be content if we possessed all they seem to have. But we forget about the 90% of their lives  below the surface: hidden by a smile or a joke, or sometimes, by self-destructive behaviors that we can’t understand.

How can we help others as Christians if we merely look at the outside—the 10% that we can see? Can we hope to make accurate assessments when we view only what is above the surface? It is very difficult to have understanding of another if we have this point of view. We will find ourselves simply judging their behavior in light of what we believe they have. And we will not be sympathetic when they “collide” with us–like a ship hitting an iceberg! But  Jesus tells us in the following verse how to meet this challenge:

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. John 7:24

This sounds easy to follow, but it is not. It takes commitment in our relationships with one another to see below the surface and really understand each other.  We are called to love one another, and this includes our response to each other when pain hiding underneath comes to the surface. Accurate judgment comes when we use wisdom by taking time to see beyond the trappings of life and give the understanding that we ourselves need in return.

It is easy  to look at outward appearances and assume that we have all the information, but God’s Word tells us to take a much closer look. Only then can we truly begin to understand  with compassion–to see closer to the way God sees us.

Has there been a time recently when you wished someone had taken the time to understand you, instead of making a quick judgment? As a follower of Christ, how can you better respond to others when they “collide” with you? Will you look beyond the surface?

www.biblegateway.com (NIV)


About Lisa

My husband Dan and I have three children and three grandchildren. We live in central Illinois. I am a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature, a member of faithwriters.com, and a member of SCBWI. My writings have been published at chirstiandevotions.us, in DevotionMagazine, the PrairieWind Newsletter, and here at thebottomline.co.

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  1. Great article, Lisa. This is why I also believe that there is no such thing as “love at first sight.” True love is a willful decision to love someone with all of their flaws, which develops over time, as you get to know the other person.

    • I do not mean to imply that we cannot love someone when we first meet them. Of course, we should love all people weather we “know” them or not. But it is only going to be a “love” based upon feelings and appearance, not on true biblical love.

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