Well, if you're human you have probably struggled with perspective from time to time in your life. Usually this comes when something unexpected happens, usually an unexpected negative. I am a very driven person, and I often express myself in “doing”. I enjoy physical labor and am task-oriented. I am also very cerebral and when my energies are not well balanced, I can dive deep into analytical thoughts that bear little to no fruit.
This sudden life change of being on “house arrest” with the COVID-19 Shelter in Place, for the past month, has taken me down some rabbit holes. I’ve found that a valuable tool that can aid in enduring any unwanted change is the right perspective. We have heard people say “perspective is everything,” but I think the true takeaway is that our perspective affects everything.
Consider that perspective is like a window that we look out and see our lives and the world around us.
What frames the window?
What colors or distorts the pane?
Is there a crack?
Is it dirty?
In our lives there are constant and unchanging facts, but how do we interpret or react to these facts? We bring with us our emotions, limited understanding, and past experiences to this window. The Bible tells us more than once that we deceive ourselves, so even in our best attempt we do a disservice to ourselves. So, to what extent can we trust our perspective?
In the book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol, Alice tires of the responsibilities of life and imagines a “world of her own” where everything would be nonsense; only to be disappointed by her experiences there. She becomes frustrated and hopeless in the absence of order and ownership. Like Alice, we can imagine that our World would be better if we can hide certain things about it from view. However, she finds the framework of absolute reality is essential for meaning, purpose and value. How can we keep ourselves from chasing fantasies down holes?
I would like to suggest 3 filters we may use when establishing a solid perspective. We will break it down by using a window word picture to assign each tool.
The Framework is the boundary that defines what can enter into our worldview.
This is God’s absolute truth as laid out in His Word. This is knowing, accepting and believing that God’s truth is unparalleled wisdom.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right."
(2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)
The Glass can become altered through different events or emotions which changes how we see reality. When maintenance of the glass is required, we can rely on Godly people who want the best for us. They will challenge us, encourage us, and love us as the hands and feet of Christ. We need to stay in communication and prayer with others who are trustworthy and of good character.
"The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray."
(Proverbs 12:26 NLT)
The Screen is the filter of the Holy Spirit. God helps us with supernatural comfort, knowledge, understanding, and power to see things the way He sees them. He will give us insight and attention to details we could never see on our own. Are we over-focused on details and need to zoom out? Are we overlooking a detail we need to acknowledge? When we quiet our own voice to hear His, he will tell us which way to go in our thought life.
"Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left."
(Isaiah 30:21 NLT)
When we see something we don’t like, our tendency is to turn away. If we do, I promise we will miss out on the beauty that is also in the fame, but maybe harder to spot. This means we aren’t getting the full picture. Let’s suppose, you were to look out a window and name five things you see. In your mind you instantly made a judgment about those five things. You attached a description or a feeling to them based on what you saw. If you saw five ugly or unwanted things, you might be tempted to shut the blinds and not look out that window again. However, God can give us the courage to look at things that are unwanted or uncomfortable and can show us the good things.
Now, we have a choice on the focus of our perspective. We can stare at the five things we dislike and complain about them, and that would make us feel just rotten, or we can focus on the five things that are good, and that will have a different effect entirely. The negative things haven’t gone anywhere, but the good things haven’t either.
The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Why would God need to tell us how to think? Because He knows our nature is to do the opposite.
He gives us this basic instruction and our obedience allows us to experience the very thing He sent his Son to give us, abundant life (John 10:10).
Therefore, I endeavor to have the perspective of truth. To do that, I must allow The Truth and His Word to be a constant filter for my mind. I must abandon anything that competes with that truth. “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Therefore, I will allow others to help me see when my emotions are clouding my judgment. I will accept their input to help me align with reality. I will honestly and candidly share, relying on the grace others give me, and I, them.
Therefore, I will submit, with thanksgiving, my supplication and allow the Holy Spirit to create in me a clean heart and a clear view of the circumstances and people around me.
If we are careful with our perspective, then we can help others with theirs. (Matthew 7:3-5)