I got in the car of my sisters boyfriend. He asked me how things were going with my girlfriend (yes, this was many, many, years ago). I told him that things weren’t good and that I needed to be a lot less selfish. He asked me how I was being selfish and I told him that I had spent a good bit of time on Thanksgiving watching football. He stopped the car at almost a screech. He yelled at me, “What’s wrong with you! It’s Thanksgiving! It’s football! That’s what you do on Thanksgiving! Weren’t you at her relative’s house? Weren’t you watching it with her relatives? She wanted you to be paying attention to her talking to her female relatives and because you didn’t YOU were selfish?!?!” He was not gentle with me. She and I promptly broke up…7 months later.
You see, I was in the weeds. I was in the muck, the mire. I couldn’t see what I had become, where I was. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, perspective is over rated…but, it is important. Way too often we get lost in the day to day-ness of our lives but lose sight of either what is important or what is beyond our immediate moment and surroundings.
This is true in oh so many ways and facets of our lives. Why do you think that we are our own worst critic? Why is it that you can clean the entire house and notice one spider web in the corner of the basement? Why do you stare in the mirror and fix your hair because that one little section just won’t do what it’s supposed to do? Why do we fixate on work (or play, or ministry…or ourselves in any way) so much that we forget that there are what you call “people” in our lives who need us?
Sadly, this is perhaps truest when we are looking at ourselves, particularly in a negative way. Yes, there are those…clearly none of us, who need to have someone check us from the outside and help us to realize that we aren’t all that we are cracking ourselves up to be. However, whether it be how we look at ourselves physically, how we look at how we live our life, the state of our relationships, whatever, we can’t really see ourselves for what we really are.
One of the dirtiest tricks we play on ourselves is to keep secrets from everyone else…everyone. Those in recovery have a phrase, “We are as sick as our secrets.” No, I’m not advocating telling everyone all of your business…all of the time. What I’m telling you is that when you have those secrets and then someone makes a positive or encouraging comment to you that dirty, nasty, negative voice whispers in your ear, “if they only knew.” Thus, we are free to beat ourselves up and negate what others say from the outside looking in.
I had a conversation recently with an adviser/mentor of mine. He spoke so clearly and in a matter of fact tone. You see, I had spent quite some time explaining the details of my life (of which he is generally up to date on anyhow) and he then proceeded to respond without referring to all of the details. The details cause us to see in a much more shortsighted fashion. They are important but can limit the overall vision that is more accurate.
Finally, the one with the greatest and clearest view from the outside is most often forgotten and least considered. Yes, I’m speaking of God. I don’t care what YOUR perspective is on God (In this context, of course. One on one I care very much) His perspective on you is that you were made wonderfully. You were made in His image. You cannot perform well enough for Him as His love for you exceeds any earthly achievement. You had a bad week, He loves you. You had a great week, He loves you. You might think that unconditional love (that everyone is offered) negates the feeling of being special. That in and of itself is a myopic negative head down self defeating limit to appreciating what is offered to you, what is there for you. Just because He loves others doesn’t negate the fact that He loves you, no matter what!
Whether it be a friend, a relative, a spouse, or especially the God of all creation, sometimes the view from the outside is the most accurate…and very much needed