Keeping Perspective When Life Feels Upside-down

One of my favorite parts of being a mom is seeing my kids grow and change over time. It’s honestly a present you get to unwrap over and over again. Recently, my daughter has been learning the alphabet and reading various letters that she sees: on signs, books, and even her clothes. She is so excited about this new found ability that she frequently requests (well, cries for, she is 2) clothes with “letters”.

A few days ago, she was showing off for her grandpa and me by reading the letters on her shirt while she was wearing it. Unfortunately, reading a shirt while you are wearing it means you’re looking at the letters upside-down. JJ did pretty well, but occasionally would mistake letters, like calling an M a W or a curvy lowercase Y an R. When I tried to correct her, she insisted, “No, it’s a W!” (again, she’s 2). Of course, from her point of view, that was 100% correct. The problem is that she was looking at things from the wrong perspective.

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What JJ saw from her perspective

One of the most challenging aspects life is seeing the bigger picture, especially when things take a detour from what you thought would happen.

It’s so easy to get focused on what’s in front of us–those things that seems incredibly obvious. Sometimes we look at problems and see them as indicative that God is angry with us or has abandoned us. Perhaps we see good things as indicative that we’re doing what God wants. From our perspective, our experience, what the world tells us, both of those things make sense. The problem is that what makes sense isn’t always true.

It’s not enough to trust our perspective only. What we believe about the world and our place in it can shift like the wind if those beliefs aren’t moored to anything more reliable than our experience. Like my daughter proudly reading the upside-down letters, when our perspective is skewed, we will see things incorrectly. And what we see informs how we live. Having a big picture perspective is critical for thriving in difficult, unexpected seasons because it is difficult to have a clear view.

So, how do we keep perspective when life feels upside-down? First, read the Bible. Seriously, I feel like I say this all the time, but staying grounded spiritually requires deepening our understanding of who God is and how he works. We need to read it again and again, always with a heart to see him yet again and learn what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us today. Those unchanging truths, beyond our tiny, single-lens perspective, tell us who we really are and, more importantly, who He is. We have to know that when times are challenging if we want to hold on to hope.

Second, the same way JJ needed me to stand back and read the words on her shirt, we need people who are close enough to see our lives, but far enough back to have some perspective. A community helps me to see both my rough edges and the living Savior who is at work in my life and vice-versa.

A few weeks back, I ran into a friend at church who was sharing about a challenge she was facing. As we talked about it, she lit up and said “Oh! But this morning I read this passage,” and she proceeded to pull a dog-eared, marked up Bible (like a full sized, heavy Bible) from her purse and read what she saw that morning. Looking back, I realized that we all need friends like that. Friends with dog-eared, marked-up Bibles who are excited to share what God is teaching them or doing in their lives. Friends who look at our lives, especially when they feel messy and broken, and can point us to light in the darkness.

May you have eyes to see!

What are things that help you keep perspective when life takes a detour? Do you have people who help you keep perspective?

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In case you were wondering what JJ’s shirt really said, “Super powers run in the family.”

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