Perspective: Our Story

Perspective…it’s kind of a big deal. The way we see our life circumstances can create opportunities for growth or it can stunt us in our journey.

When we have a negative perspective of our lives and our circumstances, we will NEVER be able to give others the benefit of the doubt, we will NEVER be able to love people the way that we are called to love them, and we will NEVER be able to live out the abundant life offered to us this side of eternity.

The way we look at our journey is important to Jesus, so it better be important to us.

Awareness is everything, but self-awareness is hard…becoming self-aware hurts. I believe that God will never fully reveal us to us because we can’t handle it…we’re just that disgusting! But I also believe that God will reveal some things about us to us, as we are ready to face them and cooperate and allow the Holy Spirit to sift and refine us and change us more into the likeness of Jesus.

Here’s the tricky part: If your perspective leans to the negative you may not even be aware of it. Thinking the worst can be second nature to us because of years of doing it or because of the environment we grew up in or because of our natural wiring (some people are just wired a bit like Eeyore), but primarily our perspective comes from our experiences and the way in which we respond to those experiences.

If the overflow of your heart and the words out of your mouth in every scenario are things like:

I can’t…I will never, that won’t work… that always happens to me… that never happens for me… it’s not fair.

Then you’re perspective is negative, for sure!

That language is reactive, and it’s a good indicator of what is going on in your heart and mind…that language signifies seeing the bad in people and in situations. Reacting is always negative. We don’t want to react to our experiences; we want to respond to them.

Response is positive. Response gives the benefit of the doubt…response is looking for an answer. When we respond, the overflow of our heart and the words out of our mouths are things like:

I can…I will… I will try… it’s going to be okay… let’s keep moving forward… I trust.

If you are totally freaking out right now because you just realized that your perspective is negative, take a deep breath! We can change the way we think. Perspective is an attitude adjustment.

No matter the circumstances in your life, you get to choose your own perspective! Your attitude isn’t who you are; it’s a choice you make.

Please don’t stop reading because you’re thinking, “My situation is different…she doesn’t know what my life is like…she doesn’t know what I’m walking through…she doesn’t know what I have lived through…she doesn’t know how difficult my loss has been…she doesn’t know how lonely I am…she doesn’t know the pain I’m in.” To all that, I would say, “You’re right! I don’t know” But I know this: We all face hard things…but we are anointed by the Holy Spirit to do hard things. That’s my mantra in life. I can do hard things. I can do hard things. I can do hard things! In fact, I have a running singlet with Phil 4:13 printed on it. I wear it to race in because it prompts conversation for evangelism, but it also reminds me that I can do hard things. You know what it says…

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul’s words here get taken out of context all the time in Christian circles. We sometimes use this verse as a good luck charm…as an affirmation of God’s provision for our own personal achievements and goals, but that’s not what Paul is talking about.

Paul is talking about contentment. Paul isn’t focused on his accomplishments, he’s focused on his heart response…his attitude…his perspective of his circumstances, whether they are good or bad. In other words, when I race in the singlet that declares this truth, and I repeat to myself over and over, “I can do hard things” I may be trying to get up a huge hill or battling extreme heat or completely exhausted nearing the end of 26.2 miles, but what I’m really declaring is that even if I bonk or hit the wall, I will be content in that! I will celebrate and bring praise and glory to God for allowing me to step up to the start line even though the end result may not be what I wanted. And being content during unfavorable circumstances is MUCH harder than grinding out a couple of miles during a marathon.

We all have hard things to do in our lives, we are called to change how we look at those hard things…we are called to find contentedness even while doing those hard things.

We aren’t hard wired to be able to respond to our experiences with contentedness. It’s something we need to learn to do.

When my kids were little, to help them with this concept I would say you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit! Now, for them it was usually in reference to the complaining of getting a green Popsicle instead of a red one, but I believe the concept holds up for us today. You can get the “green popsicle” in life when you really wanted the “red one” and complain and make yourself miserable over it and make everyone around you miserable too, by the way, and not ever enjoy it or you can get the “green popsicle” when you really wanted the “red one” and be so thankful that you got one at all that you focus on how refreshing it is and how cool it is on a hot day…how loved and blessed you are to be on the receiving end of a treat that most of the world will never enjoy. It’s a silly example, but you get the point, right? In every area of our lives, can we see the opportunities in our circumstances? Can we see the possibilities even in the mess or the disappointment? Can we choose to find the blessing? NO complaining! NO grumbling! NO comparing!

Now, I’m by no means saying that we should take some Pollyanna optimistic view on our lives. I’m not saying that we should slap a smile on our faces no matter what is going on and just pretend like everything is skippity do da! We need to honestly face our problems and our difficulties. We need to feel what we feel and learn what we need to learn so we can move on. What I’m saying is that we need to be very careful not to become complainers or whiners or gossips, or instigators of division among our community simply because we aren’t happy with what is going on in our lives.

We have to get to a place in our lives where we believe that:

What happens IN us is far more important than what happens TO us.

God uses the challenging times in our lives to shape us and mold us and transform us into the likeness of Jesus. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to our human brains how God uses the valley to change our hearts because we can’t think like God thinks, so we can’t worry about that part of it. What we can do is trust the heart and character and provision of a loving God as we journey though trials and heartache.

And here is a side note for you: God’s heart breaks when we suffer. God did not intend for our world to be what it is…He did not intend for us to struggle the way that we struggle…He did not intend for us to experience pain or shame or heartache. As we face the hard things of this life, we can rest confidently knowing that God knew about it before we ever stepped into it and in Him we can find a way to be content in it…by changing the way we look at it.

And as we experience hard things, God does a work in our minds and hearts and lives, if we will allow it…and we can only allow it… if we choose a positive attitude…without complaining or grumbling.

And when we can do that, Paul says that we will stand out and shine like stars as we help navigate a lost, hurting, and watching world to the throne room of Jesus.

Louie Giglio says, “In the end, what we dwell on is what we become. Where we camp, is where we live and die.”

May we never become a people who dwell on the negative. May we never be a people who choose to view our lives as the proverbial cup half empty. Let us never become a people who camp in the grumbling and complaining and comparing of this life.

As you journey through hard things this week, I challenge you to stop asking God to change your circumstances and instead beg Him to change the way you see those circumstances.