Perspective. It’s our keyword for today. Along the journey of finding who we are, we gain perspective. Our worldview, our beliefs, and our actions are shaped by our perspective and how we finish this race befalls upon its shoulders.
Along with perspective comes patience. Patience with others but also patience with ourselves. As much as we would love to have quick-fixes and easy adjustments, the honest truth is that neither of those things exists. Perspective takes time and time takes patience. Today’s entry into our project illuminates that fact perfectly.
My father, Jeff, a man whom I trust and respect with my whole heart, is our guest author for today. He is a pastor in Southern Michigan, has been married for almost 25 years, and grew up in a home that was less than ideal. He’s struggled through depression but he ultimately found victory. I don’t want to take away from his story so without further adieu, we hope you enjoy!
If you could see your life from, let’s say, 10,000 feet in the air and peer into a day in the life of…YOU, how might you see yourself and your life differently? If while viewing your own life from 10,000 feet you had the ability to view another person’s life in a different culture, let’s say somewhere in Africa, at the same time and could compare your life with their life how might you see yourself differently?
My point is that we are all, to some extent, prisoners of our own limited perspective. What would it take to broaden our perspective and give us a different “take” on who we are and where we’re headed? One answer could be to take a trip overseas to see life in a vastly different culture. This will lend itself to, at least momentarily, impacting us and possibly making us thankful for all of the blessings that we have. In fact, sometimes we don’t even have to leave our culture to gain this effect. We can simply make ourselves available to serve others right here around us who are less fortunate than we are.
Another way to broaden our perspective simply comes with time and experience. When we’re young (I’m not so young anymore), every trial, every negative circumstance tends to be the “end of the world.” Age and experience have ways of adding perspective to life that sometimes can’t be gathered without the simple and yet costly thing we all covet, but can’t truly save: TIME. As the old song goes (yes, I’m dating myself here), “Time keeps on tickin’, tickin’, tickin’ into the future…”
I have broadened my perspective by traveling to other countries and seeing life outside of my own context. I have been to Australia, China, Haiti, New Mexico (I know it’s in the United States, but when I was there it seemed so far removed from where I lived), and of course Canada (not sure that counts, but hey). I have and do take the time to serve others right here in my own context who are far less fortunate than me and it does add perspective to my life and creates a heart of thanksgiving. I am also a little more seasoned at this stage of my life, having gained valuable experience and gone through a trial or two all at the expense of, yep, you guessed it, time.
My story, however, is a story of what I have found to be the best medicine to broaden my own perspective on life and to thus gradually develop some semblance of healthy personal, mental, and spiritual growth.
As a teenager, I seemed happy and normal (okay, semi-normal) on the outside, but on the inside, I was a complete mess. My heart was always in turmoil and the turmoil was a direct result of my own destructive thinking. It was “me versus the world”, at least in my mind. I thought everyone was against me and nobody could convince me otherwise. I was the consummate victim. Anytime something didn’t go my way I blew it out of proportion in my mind. I’m not talking major catastrophe here, I’m talking about your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill teenage drama stuff. Ultimately I came to a place where I hated my life. I hated a lot of people around me. Most of all, inherently, I hated me (Or was it that I loved me so much that I thought everyone else should orbit around me? Hmmm…there’s that perspective thing coming into play.).
Forms of escape became the focus of my life at 16. How could I escape my circumstances? How could I escape my family? I never tried to end my life, but I certainly entertained the idea (as if that could be entertaining).
The fact is, though, that I did run away from home and I ran to my other home and life was no different there. Unbeknownst to me, on the horizon of escaping from my Dad’s house to my Mom’s house, there were ray’s of light coming. My perspective was so severely limited, but through this move, God was moving in on me and He was about to change me from the inside out.
I continued to languish in my attitude with the same ‘ole destructive thinking patterns for the next couple of years. Then I met the girl that God would use to begin the transforming process of my heart, mind, and soul (sounds romantic…and it is 🙂 ).
I met my future wife and she, through her smile, perspective, and forgiving spirit began to show me another way to live. But sadly, her love wasn’t enough to change me from the inside, but I was seeing a different way; a way out that would actually be the way in.
Finally, in January of 1991, I was working alone on a Sunday night and I turned the radio on. I was still searching, still trying to find my way, and still unhappy in spite of the love of my life showing me a better way. That night, the love that was shadowed through her to me became real when I met the true love of my life: Jesus Christ.
Yes, you read that correctly.
That night on the radio I heard with fresh ears and saw for the first time with open eyes that God loves me so much that He gave His only Son Jesus to die in my place for my sins so that I could live in true life, freedom, and love. And that night I gave my heart to Him and He transformed me from the inside, out. In fact, twenty-six years later He’s still working on me, but oh what a difference He makes. And oh, what a different perspective He brings. Now I’m viewing my life from an eternal perspective, and guess what? My life matters and so does yours.
You and I may not be able to view our lives from 10,000 feet in the air while seeing and contrasting ourselves with another person in another culture. There is, however, One who can and does see us.
In Genesis 16 there’s this less than well-known story of a woman named Hagar, who had been ostracized from her husband because of strife and jealousy. Having been cut-off with no place to go, pregnant and feeling hopeless God reveals Himself to her and she says this to the Lord in verse 13, “You are a God of seeing. Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” If we will trust God through faith in Jesus Christ then He promises to transform our perspective on our lives and anchor our minds in the good news that He loves us so much that He spared not His own Son in order to rescue and ransom us from sin.
This is not life from 10,000 feet.
This is life from the perspective of heaven.
And there is a God and He is a God of seeing and He whose eye is on the sparrow is also watching you. Embrace Him and never look back!
Thank you, Dad, for taking the time to invest in this blog and in the hearts of those who read! I’m grateful for a father to whom I can look up to and aspire to be.
We hope that you enjoyed this week’s entry! If you would like to contribute, please, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want your story!
See you all tomorrow.
You are loved.
You are valued.