“When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a thousand wishes.”
I’m relieved to be writing again since reentry is the hardest part for me after a long break. I have excuses like sickness, remodeling a house, and moving, but they’re just that, excuses. I couldn’t seem to shake them or my fatigued attitude, though, so I figured, Why write?
I’m never sure why I fight against writing so hard, but I finally gave into the notion that my perspective wasn’t improving until my daily habits aligned with what God wanted … even if I didn’t think I could muster up the drive or diction to do it.
Every year since 2012, I’ve chosen a word to focus on and live by in place of making resolutions. I’ve pushed back against some of my words (just like I do my writing) that included incremental, ponder, content, revise/momentum, love, self-care, simplicity, intentional, Jesus, and discipline.
However, never has my push back been as strong as it has been against perspective, I think because I can’t quite grasp the word. It sounds vague, but here I am writing about it because I couldn’t move forward any other way.
In December, a friend asked me to present an inspirational “thought of the day” to a women’s networking group I used to belong to. While preparing, I stumbled onto enough readings and quotes about “perspective,” I knew it was to be my topic and my word for this year.
What I didn’t know was how often I gave into a negative perspective and how lazy I’d become about practicing a right and holy one. The more I avoided writing, the worse my perspective became. I didn’t budge even though God nudged by way of sermons, our church short groups, messages in books and songs and movies, as well as messages from friends who asked why I wasn’t blogging.
I didn’t have a good answer, but now I recognize it had everything to do with my perspective that I waited on to change itself.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary offered two definitions of perspective that could have given me a different one if I’d been ready to do the work. Perspective means 1) the angle or direction in which a person looks at an object and 2) the ability to understand what is important and what is not.
1) The angle or direction in which a person looks at an object …
Early in my writing career, I learned the most valuable tip about finding mistakes and being sure a story made sense and flowed without repetition – read it backwards sentence by sentence. When we read forwards, it’s like the brain kicks into autocorrect and adjusts for our inaccuracies. Our brains justify our mistakes. Errors I overlooked while reading forwards jumped off the page when I read my stories from the end to the beginning.
The same happens with art. During a recent demonstration, my watercolor instructor flipped her painting upside down because she knew something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t pinpoint it until she looked from a different angle.
I think the same happens in life. Maybe if I can’t get my perspective right any other way, I should stand for a while on my hard head.
2) The ability to understand what is important and what is not …
Our pastor told a story about his son who nearly died when he was an infant. Several months after he was released from the hospital and home, the baby cried through the night till Dad thought he couldn’t take anymore. That was, until our pastor looked at his crying baby and realized that not too long ago, he wasn’t sure he’d ever hear that cry again. In that moment, he recognized the discomfort of missing a night or two of sleep couldn’t compare to the ache of missing a child for a lifetime, and he changed his perspective.
My perspective was challenged right before I spoke to the networking group on the topic. Thankfully it wasn’t over a life threatening event, but one that changed my work life. Last fall, I took a chance and placed my paintings in a shop to sell. When I dropped by a couple of weeks later, I found some of my artwork stacked behind the counter and the rest on the floor in a booth at the back of the store. My first inclination was to give up except for the encouragement of family and friends.
I reached out to a friend who offered help and ended up with space in a popular shop where I have a say-so about how I display my artwork. I’ve made more than my rent every month and, more recently, I had my best two weeks yet when I sold six watercolor crabs, as well as other items.
Wins like these make me wonder why I struggle against keeping a holy perspective since it’s proven to be a passage to my purpose.
And signs like these below make me wonder too, …
Without any knowledge that perspective was my word for 2022 and not knowing that I’d been “trying hard” on this blog post for a month, my Bible teacher at church said just last week, “I believe two things that matter most in life are wisdom and perspective.”
Last night, I deleted emails instead of finishing this blog post. I opened one from a friend who wrote to me last July. She said, “I just love the way you put it all in perspective.” There was more, but this part stood out. Her message left me scratching my head as to how I’m putting anything into perspective for anyone else when I can’t straighten out my own. Maybe I’m not supposed to figure it out. Maybe I’m just supposed to write.
Tonight I opened my journal and read “the sin of waiting,” which I practice way too often. I’m waiting to complete the renovation on our house and yard. I’m waiting for our kids and grandkids to move closer and enjoy more family time. I’m waiting for motivation to do more writing and painting. I’m waiting on a more important calling like assisting at our church’s new school so I don’t have to finish this book. Other interests are fine, but when I won’t live into my calling, I’m flying in the face of God and being downright disobedient.
“Your perspective will either become your prison or your passport.” Steven Furtick
I knew I’d only finish and post this blog post when I finally gave into a holy perspective that meant taking the next and important step – not raking my yard again, reorganizing another closet, busying myself with others’ business, and my list of distractions goes on and on. I’m willing for God to be Lord over this book as I sit still and willingly write the rest of it.
Is there a holy perspective and project that you’re ignoring while you make excuses and do everything else?
In This Together,
Did you know? (an interesting tidbit about perspective from Merriam-Webster):
To the modern mind, it’s hard to believe that perspective had to be “discovered”, but before the 1400s paintings simply lacked accurate perspective. Instead, important people and objects were simply shown larger than less important ones; and although distant objects were sometimes shown smaller than near ones, this wasn’t done in a regular and accurate way. Just as odd, many paintings didn’t represent the other meaning of perspective either—that is, a scene might not be shown as if it were being seen from one single place. Today, perspective is used much like standpoint. Just as standpoint once used to mean simply the physical place where you stand but today also means the way you “see” things as a result of who you are and what you do, the same could be said about perspective.
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because the blog posts will eventually be an entire manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. Each blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is one subheading within the chapter. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and suggestions. I’m over-the-top grateful you’re here.