“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
I’ve always loved sitting in the window seat while flying. There is something about taking off and watching the plane rise above the ground at 400-500 miles per hour that excites me. Call it the kid in me, but as long as I can remember I have always looked forward to it when I traveled by airplane. Just recently I took a trip and as the plane was ascending towards the heavens, something different happen. I was immersed in my normal gaze towards the ground and the sky, but as we rose above the earth and the ground became smaller, I begin to reflect on how that image was like having another point of view on what we see, experience and live each day of our lives.
I thought about how our perceptions shape the world in which we live, affects our decision-making and influences our outlook on life. As the airplane climbed higher into the sky and the water and land below began to noticeably shrink in size, things seemed to take a different shape, but in actuality nothing about them changed at all. It (the earth) arguably was the one constant between me, the plane and the earth below. So as I typically do, I began to ponder on that moment, take a few pictures of what I was observing and how that moment in time correlated to my own walk in life, or better yet my own perspectives.
We commonly hear and believe, “we are what we eat”.
Well I equally believe that, “we are what we see”.
What we see, not simply in terms of what we physically observe with our eyes, but why we view the world the way we do, why we work through our circumstances the way we do and how our own volition has brought us there. Or to put it more simply, how our choices are directly tied to how we see things from our point of view. So what are we to do when we find ourselves consistently making poor decisions, for ourselves and others? I say figuratively get in an airplane and begin to see your world differently.
Empower yourself to get the big picture, versus the tiny and isolated ones that you are used to seeing.
It is usually fear (False Evidence Appearing Real), that stifles us from stepping out into something new or making changes in our lives that are long over due. We second-guess ourselves, allow other people to talk us out of things or worse yet, we listen to the voices in our own heads that say, “You couldn’t possibly accomplish that, you’re not smart enough” or, “That’s an honorable thing to do, but not for me because no one would listen to me” or, “I could never do that because it cost too much money”. Heard them before? They’re endless and will come across as smart, wise or as practicing good judgement. In some cases this may be true, but I bet most of the time it’s FEAR that paralyzes us, which stems from how we view ourselves in general. Are we the luminary or the nobody? Do we hide when the spotlight comes on us? Are we looking for the backdoor to escape greatness? Or do we defer our moment to others and call it humility?
All these questions plus, I identify with because they and more were me at various points in my life. As a boy I wasn’t very confident, so I remained in the shadows of my friends. What some would call normal shyness was much more. I was downright terrified and too nervous to convey any thoughts or ideas I had, just because I always believed they weren’t enough. I knew certain answers in school, but I was too fearful to speak up. I was molested as young boy and held it in for decades and until I learned how to work through the many issues molestation perpetuates, I was living a lie to myself, therefore again, living in the shadows and doubt. I was married for 15 years before going through a divorce. This created overwhelming shame and guilt and just when I thought I had it together, I married again, only to divorce nine months later. In addition I hurt others that I professed to love. So when you roll all that up into to one pod of perspective, one’s outlook could become very dismal. At least for any normal human being.
I’m grateful that even in my darkest moments I remembered a scripture in the Bible that states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7a. I could have easily adopted the ideas I had, as my own and lived with them for the remainder of my life. I could have easily became bitter about the idea of sharing my life with someone authentically and faithfully. I could have easily become a bitter old man who gave up on love and perpetuated that rationale to my children, consciously and unconsciously. But thankfully I wanted to be more and I wanted to believe more, even in the midst of the most wretched times. Even with the desire it still took time for me to gain the essential understanding and the appropriate attitude to experience authentic change. An understanding and attitude that would cause me to finally see where I was and more importantly, why. It was a wake-up call to the reality of my current perspective and it’s dysfunction towards my life back then.
So like the plane I boarded so many times before, and looked out the window and saw the world I live in from a different perspective, where the rolling hills add an illustrious dynamic to the flat landscape in the background, and how the seemingly perfect divided lines cut across city boundaries to what we know as roads and highways, or how the many bodies of water seem go on forever. I never saw the places that I visited or lived in with such awe or appreciation.
I only saw them as points of destination, small parts, but not thinking of the whole.
Now I see the whole and keep that in my perspective. I recognize when I’m feeling defeated, I can take a step back and rise above my circumstances by understanding there is always a larger part to accomplish, not just focus on the one thing that I failed in. Essentially take off in flight and remain cognizant of the big picture. That picture being at times, me recognizing that life is a journey, not simply a destination, so it is imperative that I enjoy the journey while learning something from it, while on the way to my greater destination. Sometimes even now I have to fight the negative voices in my head to get to this place and remain there, but it is always worth the battle. The key is learning to do this quickly and consistently. It has allowed to me turn the darkest moments of gloom and doom and grasp at inklings of hope, that in turn created sustainable joy and brought peace to my troubled spirit. It’s not just positive confession, but a trust in my God, that my life has a purpose that I mostly understand, agree with and accept as mine. Therefore, come what may, I will prevail, I will fulfill the ultimate plans for my life and like a big kid I will continue to enjoy the window seat and see myself at each flight as it takes off, rise above every circumstance and enjoy the beauty of what is below me, which is the life I choose to live daily.