The Importance of Framing
Some of the most famous painters in the world spent nearly as much time choosing a frame for their art as they did creating the art itself. Van Gogh worried incessantly about framing his work. Whistler spent so much time creating his frames that they have become a style unto themselves. Degas scandalized his contemporaries by using bright colors in his frame. And the list goes on. Artist Howard Hodgkin says that frames are “…where the picture stops and the world begins.”
Just as a frame can enhance the beauty of a picture or painting, our mental framing can often determine the meaning of our experiences.
Not long ago I was talking to someone who was struggling with the leadership style of our new Director of Worship Arts. This new director leads from the front of the platform, and he does so with great energy and enthusiasm, but the person I was talking to framed it as an ego issue. They were uncomfortable with the thought that the director was focusing all the attention on himself. Perfectly understandable.
But I know our new Director of Worship Arts. More importantly I know his heart and his intentions. He wants nothing more than to have the congregation focus their attention, their worship and their praise on God. I suggested that the reason he leads from the front is because he frames his leadership as if the congregation were a choir singing to God and he serves as the conductor. The conductor of a great choir stands in front of the choir to lead, not to draw attention to him or herself.
That simple change in framing changed everything. After the next worship service that same person came up to me and said, “I saw everything this morning from a whole different perspective. It was wonderful. I even sang out a little louder!”
Perhaps our mental frame is also where the picture stops and the world begins.
That experience has me thinking more carefully about the mental frames that I choose. Is the driver in the next car an obnoxious jerk or someone responding to an emergency I’ll never know about? Is that person who is always critical mean-spirited or in pain? Is the person whose skin is different than mine a threat or a friend I haven’t yet met? Perhaps it all depends upon the frame I choose.
When has your choice of frame changed the way you see or experience life? Leave a comment and share your experience.