One of the most difficult things to come by in this life is perspective. I have often used the example of one’s hand in front of their own face… it’s impossible to see anything else, really. So is your hand suddenly inflated in that moment? No, but it’s all you can see. Why? Perspective. In that moment (and many like it) we have a false sense of the enormity of that which lies before us. It’s not always our fault. It’s just that we’re so close to whatever it is (our hand), that we cannot see anything else.
On the human level there may be no greater challenge. Furthermore this may be my toughest job as a parent. My task is to walk through life with my kids being honest and real when the hard times come along… all the while trying to give them some sense of perspective… that the moment is not really as big as it seems. Probably the biggest lesson I am learning in this is not to be dismissive. Any part of one’s process is an important part. I’ve seen that the processes of perspective are almost identical to the ways we process grief. Perhaps as we are gaining proper perspective we are, in fact, going through the grieving process. Think about it. We think that we have a clear vision (perspective) about a given situation. However when we step back we see that we were mistaken and this original vision is lost. We grieve its loss.
Having just passed through the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter’s story comes to mind as the perfect illustration. There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus. To question his loyalty to Christ would have seemed absurd. Think back to an exchange between Peter and Jesus…
Jesus: let me wash your feet
Peter: o, Lord, never
Jesus: if I don’t wash your feet than you don’t really belong to me
Peter: then, Lord, please wash my entire body
And even in the end, Peter could not separate his passion from his circumstances. His perspective continued to be skewed. When Jesus was initially arrested Peter’s immediate reaction was violence – he removes the ear of a nearby servant… even though Jesus had just told him this would happen. Lost perspective. And immediately following Jesus’ arrest, as some people were asking if he (Peter) was an associate of Jesus, he loses perspective again and denies even knowing Jesus… just as Jesus had said that he would.
So how do we maintain proper perspective? It’s actually very simple. Proper perspective comes when I focus on the correct object. Getting distracted and having skewed perspective is easier said and done. Because really you don’t have to do much. Just allow your focus to be on whatever comes into view at the time and it will seem like the most important thing. Many people live their lives this way. But as I focus on Jesus and his purposes, even when things I am not prepared for or that I don’t understand come into my view, I can maintain perspective because I know that they are only a minuscule part of a grander picture that he is painting.