Saturday, February 24, 2018

It's All About Perspective

As I grow older, I am discovering, that in order to deal with life better, I need to change my perspective. Towards a lot of things.  Whenever I am dealing with some dilemma or stressful event in my life, I find that I am having frequent inner dialogues with myself, and I see that when I look at it from God’s perspective, and a more positive one, I realize that I have more peace, and the stress or tension leaves me.  When I reframe it from a Godly perspective, I get a peace that surpasses all understanding. However, this is not always easy to do.

One difficulty that I frequently have to battle with in this regard, is the area in which I live.  Before I got married and moved in to my husband’s apartment, I lived in a decent neighborhood in a very quiet complex, on a quiet street, with a garage and plenty of room.  Now I live in small apartment, in a not-so-good of a neighborhood, with homelessness, gangs and drugs, constant noise, and various criminal activity on an almost daily basis. My once quiet nights are filled with things like suddenly being awakened by cars speeding and burning rubber in the alley, sounding like they will come crashing through our bedroom wall, or hearing the sounds of someone outside our window, in a drug induced state, cursing up a storm, banging on trash cans outside our window.  Sometimes I fear for our safety, as my husband was once threatened by someone wielding a hypodermic needle because he accidentally kicked over his beer bottle when walking home from the store.  These things no longer bother me like they used to, namely because I changed my perspective.  When I would express fear, my husband would always remind me, pointing towards the heavens, that we are protected, and to give it to the Lord.  Then when I saw that my husband would witness to the homeless and drug addicts, I realized that this is a mission field, and God has us here for a reason. So instead of dwelling on the negative, and telling myself “I hate living here”, I found myself being thankful and content, knowing that one of my husband’s greatest passions is spreading the love and words of Jesus to people, and living here provides him that opportunity, and even more importantly, it is part of God’s plan for us.

I always get comfort when I go to the bible and see examples of others who experienced similar challenges.  Moses had to change his perspective.  When God told him He was going to send him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses kept giving God excuses. Moses asked who is he that he should be the one to do it. He asked God what should he tell the people if they asked who sent him. When God gave him all the instructions, Moses asked what if the people wouldn’t believe or listen to him.   Then after God showed him the two miracles of turning the staff into a serpent, and turning his hand leprous then restoring it back to health again, Moses had yet another excuse:  he was not eloquent and was slow in speech and tongue.  By this time God was angry and asked Moses basically “who do you think gave humans a mouth and the ability to hear or speak? If I gave you a mouth, don’t you think I will give you the words?” Moses really needed to change his perspective at this point.  I don’t know about you, but if I saw a burning bush that wasn’t consumed, and saw God turn a staff into a snake, and then turn my hand white as snow with leprosy then back to health again, I would be pretty convinced that God was telling me to do something and that I better do it, now, no questions asked!  I think with all the evidence that God showed him, Moses could have shifted his thinking and said to himself, “yes, maybe I am not a good speaker, but God will give me the strength and courage and the right words to do this!” But it took Moses some time, and witnessing God’s might and wonders, to overcome his pessimistic perspective.  I love how God used people like Moses, with his negative and doubtful thinking, to make His plan known and to get it accomplished.   Moses’ example encourages me because it shows me that I am not the only one whoever struggled with negative thinking, and even though we might succumb to it from time to time, God can and will still use us.  It is also an example to us, that even though we don’t think we can accomplish something, or that our circumstances won’t get better, God will make us victorious, either by removing the obstacle, or giving us strength and hope to endure. Setting our sights on God, on the things above, gives us the perspective we need to persevere and be strong in our daily battles.

Changing our perspective from a self-centered one to a God-centered one can be a daily battle.  Some days are easier than others. Some days we need extra help in this area.  Reading God’s Word, listening to praise and worship music, praying, even if all we can do is throw up arrow prayers for the time being, helps so much in getting our mind right, and more in line with God’s.  When I find myself in despair over something, imagining the worst case scenario, I sometimes have to fight to change my perspective.  The “I can’t stand this small apartment” becomes “I love my cozy little home with my husband”. The “there is no hope for my prodigal and unsaved children” becomes “God has this and He’s actively working on them in His timing and His way.”  The “my job stresses me out” becomes “I am so thankful that God gave me good job with good benefits and good co-workers.”  The more I see things from God’s perspective, the less overwhelming life becomes, and the more peace and contentment sets in.  And the more I see and realize all the blessings God has bestowed on me, the more grateful and thankful I become for all that He has done.  

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” – Colossians 3:1-4