A Change in Perspective (2014-03-06 Daily) [1 of 2]
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
Hannah recently had a gymnastics meet in Rockwall, Texas, about 80 miles east of the Hughes farm in unincorporated Parker County. As has become pretty common this winter, the weather forecasters predicted a good chance of freezing rain and freezing drizzle the day of the meet, despite the 84 degree weather we enjoyed the day before. And as the arctic cold front roared through the area, driving the mercury below freezing, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning. This is why I moved away from New York, I told myself as we pulled out of the garage into the freezing rain, sleet, and gusty 30 mile-per-hour winds. To get away from this mess!
We arrived at Rockwall High School on time, glazed with a light coating of rime, but as we sat through the meet, the harsh north winds carried with them an increased torrent of rain which, at 27 degrees, froze to the cars, the sidewalks, the parking lot . . . and the freeway home. When I nudged the Traverse onto westbound I-30 and joined the other tentative drivers on the 80-mile long linear ice skating rink, I prayed for safety and patience, hoping our drive back to Aledo wouldn’t turn into an expensive bumper-car thrill ride.
As we inched along, rubber-necking at the aftermath of several accidents and witnessing countless flashing emergency lights, I began to relax when I realized my nervousness, my drama, my judgmental attitude about the idiot drivers in their fishtailing pickup trucks, and my glass-half-empty outlook were clouding my ability to actually enjoy this extended time together with my family, participating in an adventure that doesn’t happen very often in North Texas. I finally gave into my wife’s much more joyful attitude about the situation, sat back, and rode out the rest of the almost three-hour sled ride in my 5,000 pound all-wheel-drive bobsled with acceptance rather than a selfish sense of inconvenience. That drive did something wonderful: it helped change my perspective about being in a situation I didn’t have much control over. Besides, adventures like these always give me something to write about!
The outcome, or even the moment-by-moment experience of any situation, is determined chiefly by how we process and act on the thoughts we have about that situation; we all have the ability to reframe our experiences, no matter what they are. As such, isn’t all of life a matter of perspective? Isn’t how we look at the world the chief determiner of how we function in the world? Doesn’t how we handle our thoughts lead to how we handle the situation producing those thoughts? After all, we always have a choice about whether or not to believe the thoughts flying through our heads, and how we subsequently act on those thoughts. “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” the apostle Paul advised in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).
By taking each thought captive and holding it up to the Truth of God’s Word, the reality of any situation can be brought into sharp focus. Mourning truly can be turned into joy, weeping can be restored into laughter as we allow God to transform our minds and change our perspective. As image-bearers of the Most High God, we were created to create, to imagine, to produce order from chaos, to bring into reality those things that first existed in our heads. “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Jesus said (Matthew 6:10 NIV). It’s how we choose to handle those thoughts which can raise us to the pinnacle of our potential, or crush us under the tank treads of depression.
So, life is a matter of perspective, and it’s up to us to change that perspective as necessary to align it with not only our hopes and dreams, but with God’s will. Sometimes that takes an epiphany. Sometimes a eureka moment. Sometimes a smack on the back of the head with Wisdom’s rolling pin. The answer to a prayer may be a shift in perspective; instead of thinking outside the box we need to take the box off the shelf, dust it off, disassemble it, and rearrange the parts into a nifty two-story birdhouse with a reflecting pool and an outdoor shower. Instead of seeking the 40,000 foot view of the forest, we need to hack our way through the trees with a machete and a conquering attitude. “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time,” wrote Isaac Asimov in I, Robot. “People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?” Sometimes it’s God holding up that mirror.
In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet quoted God as saying, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV). Thank God He doesn’t think like we do! Thank God He sees the big picture, not only across space, but across time. He’s got it all worked out, and as I mature in my Christian walk, and as my spiritual eyes and ears continue to open to the Kingdom of God at hand, I realize He’s the Master at changing my perspective.
Copyright © 2014 David C Hughes