Wisdom in Perspectives
Perspective is an unavoidable aspect to life. Regardless of who you are, where you are, what decisions you make, or why you make them, everyone approaches all dimensions of life in different ways, degrees, and angles. Does the old saying hold true that, “There are always two sides to a story?” I’ve been pondering this question during a period in my life that has been very transitional and influential. Is the cup half full… Or half empty? Does a seed die… Or bring new life? Did a sports team win… Or did a sports team lose? Was my bar breaking down a bad thing… Or a good thing? (I must admit I wouldn’t be writing this right now if it hadn’t.) This list of questions, though some might be more complex, continue infinitely on as they easily overwhelm my very finite mind.
It was the beginning of crisp, cool, mornings, crunchy leaves twirling through the air, and dancing across the cold pavement as my alarm pierced through a brisk fall morning. As I rolled over, I felt the chill of the first bite of fall weather climb down my back. I closed my eyes once again only to be awaken by a text from my mom asking if I needed anything. I didn’t. I was too old for that! The reality then sunk in that I was only up on time because of her. It wouldn’t be the last time on this challenging day that I felt like I was a boy once again. I threw on my skinny jeans, plaid button up shirt, and puma shoes, grabbed my backpack (which was way too heavy), and headed out the door to the bus stop. It was a long walk. I had a mile worth of time to think through what had happened in the past 12 hours.
I had just moved out of my parent’s house, had multiple bills to pay for the first time, had a fulltime job that physically and emotionally drained me, had school fulltime, and had been struggling to find a community to get plugged into. I ironically had the frequent and fleeting thought of being a kid once again so that I wouldn’t have to worry about so much anymore. The irony in this manifest itself last night when my car broke down and I had to hitchhike back home. But now my mile is up and I’ve arrived at the metro bus stop.
Crap. I was 5 minutes late and it’s already come by. I missed my bus to school, again. Given, the last several times were when I was in third grade. Oh, the irony of wanting to be a child again. Thankfully there was more than one bus this time so I jumped on the next bus, and was on schedule… To be thirty minutes late to class. Nothing had changed since I was a child. I still had to pay to ride the bus, but the driver instead of the school bully. The bus driver still told me to be careful crossing the street, however, there was no stop sign to keep cars from turning my journey into a game of frogger this time. After I got out of class I had the daunting task of walking to work through a neighborhood I didn’t know. This took me straight back to my childhood days of exploring the neighborhood that surrounded the suburbs I grew up in. I was a kid again. Waking up late, missing the bus, exploring neighborhoods, and not being able to drive, are all things some people might view as negative; however, I held a huge smile on my face. In fact, it was probably one of the more fun days I have had in the past two months.
Why? Because of perspective.
Do people really see that there is more than only one perspective? Yes? Perhaps I need to rephrase this question. Do people see that their perspective may not be the right one? The result of “the fall” in Genesis 3 is man’s eyes being opened to a new perspective, which was the knowledge of Good and Evil. This single act of eating the forbidden fruit was man saying to God, “I know best.” What followed this? Genesis 3:7 tells us that they saw that they were naked. Their whole perspective had changed. Immediately there are multiple different perspectives. Adam says it was, “this women you gave me” and Eve says it was, “the serpent who deceived me.” Ever since this event man has held onto this idea that, “I know best. My perspective is right.” Because of this, it is my belief that, while people are influenced by other’s perspectives around them, they naturally hold tightly that their perspective is the right one. Even if there is recognition that other perspectives exist, people all too often allow their circumstances (what they’ve experienced, what they’ve seen, what they know, even what others have told them…) to tell them they are right and other people see things wrong. It is my belief that we can’t allow our circumstances, which are in a constant ebb and flow, to control how we view things in life.
Take Paul for example. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 is a list of Paul’s circumstances that says, “…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” This is a man who, out of anyone who has ever lived, had the right to allow his circumstances to define his view on all of life. Yet, he didn’t. Paul discovered the peace and rest that comes from having a perspective that is constant and brings Stability to any circumstance.
This brings me back to the beginning of Genesis. Before “the fall,” and the birth of multiple perspectives, Adam and Eve knew only one perspective, and that was God’s. This is what Wisdom is, “Seeing life through God’s perspective.” This is exactly how Paul was able to remain content regardless of his circumstances. As humans we too often view day-to-day situations through the perspective of the flesh, but through Christ we have the freedom to not be bound by the stress, heartache, confusion, or depression that comes from a human perspective. It is this understanding that leads me to believe there are only two different perspectives for anything. The way the flesh sees things and the way God sees things.
But how do you see life from God’s perspective? Simply by knowing who He is. God did this with Job when Job lost every worldly possession he had. Job had circumstances staring him down and telling him to see his life through those circumstances, but God took the magnifying glass away from eyes that gazed on circumstances and revealed the vastness that is God’s love for His creation and those He created in His image. We see life from God’s perspective by knowing who He is, and we know who He is by His very words that are given to us in Scripture.
Webster’s dictionary defines perspective as, “the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other." The moment you look at things through the perspective of your flesh and allow your circumstances to define how you view things, you can be certain that you are focused on the two-dimensional; your circumstance and yourself. However, the moment that you ask God to help you master the art of seeing all circumstances through the third dimension of life, which is Christ and Him crucified, you gain the right impression of just how small, short, and shallow your circumstances are compared to the surpassing greatness of God’s power. (Ephesians 1:19) Only then will your broken down car turn into an opportunity to have the faith of a child.
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