Gaining Perspective

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Gaining perspective is crucial in life; it gives us a healthy appreciation for the things and people in our lives. Our attitudes are affected by our perspective. It is so easy for us to take the positive things in our lives for granted, resulting in our finding fault in petty or insignificant things. When the bigger things in life are secure, it seems that we become more irritated by the little things. I have met people who have experienced tremendous challenges in their lives who seem happy and even look out for the well-being of others, but I have also met people who have not experienced near the same level of hardship, yet seem to live in a continual state of misery or unhappiness. This reveals that our circumstances do not have to dictate our state of mind. We can choose our perspective. We can choose to step back and look at the bigger picture, recognize our blessings, and choose to be content with others, ourselves, and life. Not only is that the biblical response, but there is actually freedom in it.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11b-13

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

G.K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in creation: It has always amazed me that each fingerprint is unique and that snowflakes, animal markings, flowers, etc. are all a little different from each other, yet still have characteristics in common allowing us to immediately identify them. Each person is a one-of-a-kind original. Ponder that for a moment. Humans are such complex creatures – with intellect, creativity, talents, all kinds of emotions, and the abilities to love and wonder. Each of us wants to know that we matter and have a purpose for being here. The human brain is beyond our own comprehension. Besides having its own filing system for memories and knowledge and having the ability to learn multiple languages and complex sequences, the brain controls most of what goes on in our bodies without us even thinking about it. The systems are autonomic and are constantly at work on our behalf. In a healthy person, the skeletal system, nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, skin, organs, etc. all communicate and work together seamlessly. Some think this is a result of random material processes, but I see it as powerful evidence for a masterful Designer who chose to share many of His own attributes with us. Just contemplating how our blood clots after a cut and how our immune system is designed to protect us fills me with a thankful heart and causes me to be more in awe of our Creator’s genius.

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.  Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.”

Psalm 104:24-25 

Gaining perspective in relationships: During the pandemic, some marriages and families face more conflict as people spend more time together without some of the outlets they are used to having. It is so easy for irritations and minor disagreements or differences to seem larger than they really are so that we lose sight of the big picture and the blessings that we enjoy. This lack of perspective can cause more pain in the end for all concerned. The miracle to me is that any two people can get along at all, given how complex we all are – albeit for a lifetime. It takes determination, selflessness, and commitment – but the rewards make it a worthwhile goal. We must choose in our mind first, and each time our frustration or irritation level rises, take a deep breath and do not allow it to bring out the worst in us. I have found that putting myself in a time-out can be helpful (hey – it works with kids; why not adults?) because it allows me a chance to cool off, pray, step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes God gives me insight into the other person that I hadn’t previously considered, providing me with better understanding. Other times, He shows me that I am the one in need of an attitude adjustment.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:2-3

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13

Gaining perspective regarding our country: Without sufficient knowledge of other forms of government and what it’s like to live under them, people may not understand how blessed we are to live in America with its republican form of government and guaranteed freedoms. The most recent generations have enjoyed more prosperity than American generations before them as well as more freedom to choose their own paths. However, there is an overall decrease in gratitude and satisfaction as well as an increase in depression and suicide. This is both troubling and sad. Historically, generations have faced more serious circumstances (famine, disease, devastating wars, the Depression, oppressive totalitarian governments, genocide, torture, severe poverty, loss of multiple loved ones, lack of rule of law, etc.) which prevented them from concentrating on lesser problems. The trials of life are what shape us and I believe that the faith of previous generations was part of their amazing strength and resiliency. They did not expect this life to be easy and so had a better perspective and response to challenges. Those who have come to America from oppressive and/or poverty-stricken countries understand that our country is amazing.

“Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

James MadisonFederalist 10, 1787

Gaining perspective regarding law enforcement: I have had the privilege of knowing many people in law enforcement. Like nurses, teachers, those in ministry, and others who believe they are called to serve others in their respective fields, those in law enforcement that I have known personally also believe they have a calling to protect and serve communities and those who live and work in them. They choose to put their lives on the line every time they leave their families and go to work. I am so thankful for the service they provide and the sacrifices they make. Their efforts to keep communities safe allow us law-abiding citizens to pursue our goals, raise our families, and enjoy our freedoms. Without law enforcement, the ensuing chaos, violence, and increased crime would cause law-abiding citizens who have respect for others and respect for the property rights of others to live in fear of mob rule. One of the amazing foundations of our country is that it is one based on the rule of law, with everyone having equal rights under the law. Even if it doesn’t play out in every circumstance, we also have a voice with free speech rights – but not at the expense of someone else’s free speech or property rights. The role of government is not to constrain its citizens, but to protect their rights.

“Without authority there is no liberty. Freedom is doomed to destruction at every turn, unless there is a recognized right to freedom. And if there are rights, there is an authority to which we appeal for them.”

G. K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in life: Look around – every person you see struggles with life’s challenges. Just as each of us are unique, each person’s set of experiences are also unique. However, the human condition is shared by each of us. We all want to be loved and accepted, and none of us can live up to our own expectations. Is it fair for us to expect other people to live up to our expectations? Only one person who lived on this earth was perfect; He was God incarnate, and His name is Jesus Christ. That is why only His death on the cross could pay for the shortcomings of all people, including yours and mine. He conquered both sin and death through His death and resurrection, breaking the curse brought into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Jesus not only offers us the free gift of eternal life when we die, but in the meantime offers us a life of meaning and purpose here on earth. Life this side of heaven is not easy and being a Christ-follower has a cost. Our lives are no longer our own, but His love is so amazing – He knows us inside and out, and even with all of our faults, loves us anyway. The Lord created us with that desire for purpose so we would pursue Him and follow the plan for which He created us. He already knows what lies ahead, so He knows exactly what we need before we do. Once we find unconditional love through Jesus, we are free to love others and appreciate them – even with their differences and faults.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:17-19

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:9-11

Looking at the bigger picture, appreciating the differences in others, being thankful for the blessings in our lives, and being content are all choices we make, and they come when we gain perspective. People who find their redemption and purpose in Christ and learn who He is and who they are through God’s revealed Word are generally more content, have hope in Jesus’ finished work for our eternal salvation, and have a better perspective to the extent they have adopted His perspective, which is perfect like Him.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.””

1 Peter 2:21-22

“And He said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding’.”

Job 28:28

© Constance Rice 2020

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