Perspective. What does that mean to you? We have all heard, “Put it in perspective,” as advice when things aren’t going our way. So you can’t pay your mortgage this month, at least you HAVE a house. You could be living in the streets, in the cold, in a third world country, and on and on the reasoning goes. But, when you are the one struggling, hearing this does not seem to help. In fact, it can be quite annoying.
When my 3 girls were younger, 5, 4, and a newborn, and I was a full-time at-home mom, I had my fair share of stressful moments. Kids needing you for everything from pouring a drink of water for them to wiping their butts, added on top of routine laundry, spill clean up, cooking and keeping them busy (or at least safe!) can seem exciting on some days, but mostly exhausting. Add in to it the pure lack of personal time, privacy and adult conversation and it’s no wonder I felt I was in over my head. At times when Jim came home the floodgate of complaints would burst open. His response, “At least you GET to stay home. A lot of women would probably like to stay home but can’t because they have to work.” Did this help me gain a clearer perspective? No. Was he right? Probably.
Just like the picture here, there are two hidden images. Which do you see more easily? The old woman or the young woman? Can you see both? Neither is ‘easier’ to see, it’s just a matter of which you see first. And once you see the picture one way it is hard to allow your mind to see the other picture. But isn’t it true that in life? In life there are also two hidden images. Positive and negative (if you will). Choosing how we will see the world, and our experiences in it, will create our reality. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Who else gets to sing songs, make up dances, paint, read stories, do science experiment, play make-believe, play sports, and have little people love them for their job??? Yeah, it’s a pretty sweet gig….” The year I taught at a preschool I might not have put it that way. My status update would have read, “Get me out of here, I have a head ache. Why did I sign up for this gig….?”
At that point in my life I didn’t realize I had a choice. I just lived without giving it any thought at all. Doing what needed to be done on the surface level and being a victim of my unpleasant circumstances. But now, I realize that all of life is made up of choices. The biggest of which is your choice to perceive situations as you wish. If Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search For Meaning, could survive a WWII concentration camp by not giving up hope and by being thankful for what he had, which wasn’t much, who am I to complain about such trivialities? If Ingrid Betancourt, who wrote Even Silence Has An End, could survive being kidnapped and living 6 1/2 years in a Colombian jungle as a hostage, swarmed by bugs, bathing in rivers with poisonous snakes, what is so distressing about my life? So in the end Jim was right. I could have chosen to be grateful that I did get to stay home with my children. I could have chosen to be thankful that I had a washing machine to wash my clothes, food to cook for my family, and healthy children that were growing up safe and loved. But I didn’t know that then. Thank God now I do!
So the question I am asking you today is: What seemingly negative situation are you facing today could choose to change your perspective to a more positive point of view? Could a lost job be looked at as an open door to a new and better job? Could a noisy child be looked at as an opportunity to grow more patience? Could a past hurt be looked as as an opportunity to extend forgiveness and free yourself of the burden you are carrying around? You can never go wrong when you consistently look for the good in all situations. Believe that each day, each experience is meant just for you, to teach you something about yourself, to give you an opportunity to grow, to challenge you to dig deeper. If Viktor Frankl and Ingrid Betancourt can do it, so can you!