There are very few things I can actually control in this life. For instance, I can totally bypass the dollar section at the bullseye boutique (no thanks to those fabulous higher-ups whose strategic marketing landed it smack-dab at the front of the store!) and save myself $2,117. I can shut off the tele, spend some quality time with the kiddos, save them a brain cell or two, and let some other mommy keep the network afloat by allowing a super hyper, faithless yellow sponge to babysit her little darlings. I can even choose to forego a half hour argument over why it isn’t okay to flatten the kitty’s ears while he’s sleeping in exchange for five minutes of me-time. I cannot, however, manipulate the weather, affect real change on capitol hill (let’s face it, I am a Republican in the state of California after all), force the San Diego Chargers to actually finish a drive on any given Sunday, or convince the princess that the potty is a necessary evil. But there is one thing I have only recently come to recognize as entirely within my control. So today I wave my magic wand (which oddly resembles a spatula these days), snap my ponytail, twitch my nose, and wait for the magic to happen. Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...sorry, I had to refill my wine glass. Here it is: you, actually have the ability to change the way you view your circumstances and consequently, tip the needle on your joy meter a bit to the right. And yes, I said joy meter. I can say it another way if you’d like. You can change the song that’s playing in the depths of your soul from “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to “Here Comes the Sun.” Some call it a worldview or filter. I like to refer to it as the gift of perspective. And believe me, it is truly a gift that we have been given...the ability to look at any situation and process it any way we’d like. We can control our own capacity for joy based purely on how we choose to see things. So the next time your dolphin floaties spring a leak and you find yourself struggling to stay afloat, ask yourself, “How’s the view from down here?”
Is the mountain insurmountable, an obstacle so large to even contemplate tackling it would be physically exhausting? Or is it possible the view from the top is so breathtakingly gorgeous the journey to get there seems like a walk in the park? Are you a victim or a vessel? Do you view the challenges of life as suffocating and unbearable, believing the only way to avoid another heartbreak is to become fast friends with your pillow for 24 hours a day? Are you a seemingly innocent bystander, never quite able to crawl out from under the rock or find a solid footing in constantly shifting sand, always searching for the pity party around the corner in need of a guest of honor? Or are you a vessel, relishing the tough times as opportunities for spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth? It is quite possible that in these times, God has given you a rare opportunity to speak on His behalf, to sing praises in the rain - or perhaps, a torrential downpour at times - to send some glory His way and redefine faith. How do you see things?
Are you certain the homeless man on the corner is really in it for the vodka or is there a distinct possibility he may actually possess enough humility to stand on a street corner with carefully chosen words that never seem to say enough scrawled on a cardboard sign and beg for help, soul exposed to ridicule and judgment from random passers-by who justify their ambivalence by telling themselves, “I don’t have any cash anyway.” How do you see things?
Have you arrived at the intersection of bitterness and ungrace, certain that the ones who have hurt you - intentionally and unintentionally - are forever undeserving of forgiveness? Have you hardened your heart so successfully not even the angriest bird can penetrate the fortress you’ve built? Or by some small miracle, have you seen beyond the betrayal to the hurt in the ones who have hurt you, knowing somewhere deep inside they too are wounded souls longing for someone or something to fill the void? How do you see things?
Do you see things through filtered lenses, as the world wants you to see them? As the politicians want you to see them? As your family wants you to see them? Or do you see them through rose-colored glasses, tinted red as the blood of Jesus, holy and pure, true and unchanging, powerful and eternal? Might I suggest there is enough heartache and pain in this life without adding fuel to the fire. Next time the tendency to fan the flames kicks in, perhaps you should douse it with water instead. Trust me, there is enough to reduce it to a pile of smoldering ashes - the glass is more than half full in God’s house! For once, if not always, silence the critics and your own accusing voice and tune in to the sweet, sweet voice you hear when you find yourself falling. Let the words of a loving savior ring in your ears. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9
And because I haven’t met my question mark quota in this little diatribe, I’ve got one more for you. When your pace slows and your doubt increases, ask yourself, “Am I a weary traveler on a road wrought with speed bumps and potholes or am I wounded warrior whose faith in something bigger simply will not allow me to believe life’s hurdles are meant to trip me up rather than build me up.” If only for a moment, allow yourself to believe you have a loving Father who desires nothing less than the best for His children, the most coveted glittering prize, a precious gift, an eternity in Heaven with you (yes, you). His grace is sufficient, His word is true, His love is extravagant, and the view from up there is always unfiltered.