I’ve noticed that at the start of each new year, many individuals select a word to use to define or provide structure to their year. I’ve always admired that. I attempted to be one of those individuals. Somehow it never seems to work. It could be a product of my chronically unorganized right-brained thinking. But rather what I’ve found is at some point, a word or phrase attaches itself to my year. Or my life. And yes, truth be told, to my mess as well.
This year, that word has been perspective. It comes up everywhere and the need for perspective has become important to me. This is what I’ve learned:
“When we change our perspective, everything changes.”
This is really true, isn’t it? I have a choice in how I perceive each situation. As a very emotional responder, it’s wicked easy for me to just fly off the handle in any given situation. My husband doesn’t respond the way I’d prefer to a question I ask? Clearly it’s because our marriage is tired and old. My daughters fidget and whisper their way through prayer time at church after we just had a come to Jesus conversation in the car on the ride over? Clearly that’s because I’m not a good mother. A decision I make appears to negatively effect people I love. Clearly that’s because I’m not tuned in to what God would have for my life. I’m a failure. I shouldn’t even bother trying.
No, in each of those cases, that perspective is not the best perspective. But when I intentionally choose to remove the emotion of the moment and look at the facts of a given situation logically, everything changes. Well, the situation doesn’t necessarily change, but my perception changes. It begins to line up with truth. And that breeds hope and freedom. And it negates the lies of the enemy who would like to keep me trapped in doubt and unbelief.
Recently, I accepted the call to a new ministry position at a new church. While this is really exciting and without a doubt a God thing in the life of my family, it means uprooting my daughters from the church they’ve attended since birth, learning to know an entirely new congregation, and saying goodbye to beloved and treasured friends. Suffice it to say it’s been a difficult couple of weeks. And the road has been extremely bumpy. My perspective has been off. I underestimated how tough things would be, I thought the transition would be easier, I didn’t anticipate the challenges that lay ahead. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, so last night when my foot unwittingly found a stray apholstery staple as I sat down to enjoy some tv with my sweet hubby, well, I totally lost it. I felt forsaken and alone. And I had a very un-Jesus girl meltdown. I needed a reality check and a change of perspetive. Because I was dangerously close to a “woe is me/I’m following what You said, God and now I’m sad AND bleeding all over the carpet” perspective. Okay, actually I was smack in the middle of that ugly perspetive, thankyouverymuch. In that moment, my husband gently reminded me that God never promised us easy but he did promise us good. I needed that truth spoken over my life at that moment. He also reminded me that he doesn’t handle blood but that’s probably a post for another day. But in that moment, I needed to remember to breathe and trust and let the small things, MY things, go.
“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” Psalm 54:4
Perspective is important, in whatever we do. It’s necessary in our interactions with our kids who will misbehave, spouses who will forget to bring home flowers, friends who don’t always respond as we’d expect, drivers who cut us off in traffic and well-meaning ladies at church who criticize our parenting. In each case, we can choose offense, defense or even nonsense. But when we let God’s truth into our hearts and take a look at what is REALLY going on, it makes all the difference.
Finding the right perspective isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. Putting the cross between ourselves and our situation, lavishly offering grace to those around us just as it’s been offered to us, is freeing. It keeps us from living in lack and it gets rid of negativity in our lives.
Perspective. That’s the word that rises above the rest in my life. And I trust that God will continue to provide further perspective just as I continue to seek.