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Putting It All In Perspective

It can be humbling for me to realize how limited my understanding is. Sometimes I think I’m seeing things clearly, that I really have a grip on what’s happening in my life. There are those moments when everything seems to be flowing smoothly, and I’m advancing toward my goals. At other times, I feel lost and confused, uncertain about where to go next. In the face of life’s obstacles, I often question whether I’m on the right track after all.

It is comforting to realize that I am not the only one who feels this way. We are all bound up in our own human limitations. Sometimes we get it wrong. And even when we are on the right track, our vision is still only partial. Nobody has a “God’s-eye view” on life. Each time I pass through these ups and downs, I feel less certain that I can rely on my personal perceptions to guide me in life. My understanding in any particular moment is so colored by my own limitations; it’s hard to know whether I’m seeing things as they truly are.

Despite our limited understanding, we can gain broader perspective if we’re willing to wait and listen. One way to do this is by slowing down, paying attention to the rhythms and patterns of our own lives. When we’re euphoric, we can remember that excitement doesn’t last forever. In the same way, our periods of darkness are ultimately fleeting, too.

We can also gain perspective by opening our lives to one another. I can share with my friends about the way I am viewing the world right now, and they can tell me what they see. This process is especially powerful if my friends are also committed to seeking the truth. Together, we can evaluate a situation from many more vantage points than we could ever do by ourselves. Best of all, we can engage in shared listening to the Holy Spirit. No one has seen God, but when we love one another, he dwells among us and helps us to be faithful.

Another helpful tool in finding truth beyond our momentary highs and lows is to seek the wisdom of our spiritual ancestors. The beloved community of past generations has left us a legacy of rich, spirit-inspired writings that we can draw on today. The Bible is chief among these writings, bearing as it does the authentic witness of ancient Israel and the early Church. By immersing ourselves in the testimony of those faithful men and women who have gone before, we hedge against the pitfalls of more time-bound thinking.

What are ways that you have found to broaden your perspective and get a better understanding of God’s work in your life? How do you navigate the emotional highs and lows of daily living, avoiding both mania and despair? How have you been humbled, encouraged to seek the perspective of others as you seek to encounter life as it really is?

  • And part of it is just noticing, paying attention to what is going around us. Last night, Young and I went out to eat. At the next table, there were what appeared to be a mother and baby, and a set of grandparents. The baby was obviously well loved. He was happy and waving at us and other customers. God made us to love one another. God wants us to have the sense of wonder and excitement at others and the world God made that this baby has. If the love which that baby and his family obviously felt would be universal, that would be the Kingdom of God.

  • Diane Benton

    Christ in us our hope of glory. Remembering that helps me a lot. Also, living unconditionally helps me. With embracing each moment, receiving it and
    experiencing it comes the gift of knowing Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As often as I’m abiding there I am the peace
    of God that passes all understanding and brings healing to my surroundings.

  • BicycleThief II

    “No one has seen God, but when we love one another, he dwells among us and helps us to be faithful.”

    This is the key for me … but sometimes we love in the wrong way. As you say, experience and tradition are invaluable in helping us to achieve this.