Often I sit on our deck to read my Bible and pray. For some reason, I’m in the habit of turning my chair toward to the left, but the view in that direction isn’t ideal. I see a bare patch where a dead tree once stood, the remnants of weeds at the edge of the woods, and stacks of empty plastic flower pots and a neglected car in my neighbor’s driveway.
One morning, I was distracted by on-going concerns. Without really thinking about it, I swiveled my chair toward the opposite side of the yard. When I looked up, I saw new foliage bursting from barren limbs. A gentle breeze stirred the branches and my attention went to a hawk perched high overhead. It called to its mate across the way. My other neighbor’s yard stretched before me like a green carpet freckled with dappled sunlight. Cardinals danced on the deck railing and swooped to the roof. As I reflected on the totally different view on this side of the yard, the Lord whispered, “You need to view challenges from a new perspective.”
Many things in our lives are in need of a new outlook. Here are some things to remember as you gain perspective and maintain forward motion despite your circumstances:
View perspective from a different angle
In art, perspective is a technique which creates space and depth for a three dimensional look on a flat, two dimensional surface.
In art history courses in college, I remember being intrigued by the art of Andre Mantegna, who painted from a worm’s-eye perspective. When you look at his paintings, you feel as if you are on the ground looking up.
Often your perspective is at its lowest when you face an on-going life challenge. Your outlook about everything is colored by your current situation and your response is frequently frustration and self-pity.
In the 20th century, a number of artists began painting with a bird’s-eye view. They changed the perspective, giving a aerial view.
Sometimes you need a broader perspective on your situation. You need to change lenses on the camera you’ve been using. Instead of taking snapshots, a panoramic view is required. Often, you can’t gain perspective without the wider view of someone outside the situation. It may take only one tweak of your viewfinder to adjust your point of view.
In the last several months, I have become increasingly aware of individuals and families facing serious health situations. Young men in their twenties, a childhood friend, and now, her daughter, and others I don’t really know, all dealing with cancer. When I think of these, and their families, struggles I face seem minimal juxtaposed against those situations. Yet it’s not unusual to get bogged down with your own problems and afflictions and allow your perspective to skew in a negative direction.
Looking outward with compassion and concern for others changes your perspective. Make praying for others part of your daily routine and look for ways to support and encourage.
Find positives and express gratitude
Again and again, I’ve seen those going through deep waters weather the storm by looking for something positive in their situations, expressing gratitude despite their circumstances, and taking each day as it comes without trying to guess what tomorrow holds. Often it is difficult to find anything positive in current circumstances, but when you search, and find that nugget, it’s like a precious jewel gleaming amid rough stone.
Trust God for the future
One of the biggest challenges of the life of faith is trust. It shouldn’t be hard because God repeatedly proves his faithfulness. Yet you worry and fret and try to figure it out on your own before looking to God and believing he is working out your circumstances for good. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make the future work out in your timeframe or as you anticipate. Instead, rest in God’s plan and provision.
“These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 TLB)