Onions and Perspective

by Karen A. Bellenir

Not long ago while I was volunteering at the local food bank, I had an opportunity to see how a person's perspective could dramatically alter a situation. Here's what happened:

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  National Resources Conservation Services personnel inspect a crop of Vidalia onions near Lyons, Georgia (Image by Jeff Vanuga, 2002; courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture).

National Resources Conservation Services personnel inspect a crop of Vidalia onions near Lyons, Georgia (Image by Jeff Vanuga, 2002; courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture).

On the morning in question, the food bank had received an abundance of onions. Normally, onions were distributed one bag per family, but because some of the onions were nearing (or even past) their prime, families were being given two bags. I was assigned the task of helping clients take the groceries they received to their cars.

I helped one woman put her parcels in her trunk. She saw—and smelled—the onions. A smile lit up on her face when she noticed that she had received two bags. She exclaimed, "How kind of them to give me an extra bag of onions to make up for ones that have gone bad!" She left happy.

The next person I assisted had a different outlook. She looked at the two bags of onions and wrinkled her nose. With obvious disgust, she frowned and complained, "Why do they try to push that bad stuff off on me." She refused the bags and left in anger.

I could imagine the first woman sorting the onions, tossing the spoiled ones and making something wonderful out of what was left. I could imagine the second, fuming all day long about how she had been cheated, and I wondered about the possible ways this unhappiness might seep into her relationships and activities.

The experience caused me to consider my own reactions to life's ups and downs. Do I receive the good along with the bad with gratitude and joy? Or, do I reject the good along with the bad with disappointment and irritation?

I had to admit that all too often, I react like that second woman—blinded to the good because of the bad. I often let frustration and disappointment with situations taint my outlook and hamper my ability to enjoy other things.

I'd rather be like the first woman.

The Bible includes this admonition: "See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18*)

With God's help, perhaps I can move closer to God's will in this area.

*Scripture quotation is from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good New Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Observations: A Pier Press® Newsletter. To view the complete newsletter, visit our online archives. Also, please consider becoming a subscriber so that future editions can be delivered directly to your inbox. Subscriptions are free!