I sat down earlier this week to write in my journal, my mind racing on a few things that I had let get under my skin. I was ready to let it all out, analyze all the circumstances, and try to process why I was letting myself feel so defeated. As I picked up my pen and put it to paper, however, this is what came out:
Don’t look at the circumstances.
Look at Jesus.
I stopped, actually a little bit surprised at what I had just written. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was exactly the line of thinking that I needed to follow.
I didn’t need to spend any more time dwelling on my circumstances. As a matter of fact, overthinking and letting small annoyances take up too much mental and emotional space is one of my greatest flaws (#recoveringperfectionist).
It’s too easy to look at my circumstances and, from my limited perspective, feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I need to spend less time looking at things from the wrong perspective. Instead, I need to get the perspective of Jesus.
I remember a time several years ago sitting up by Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Forest. As I watched the early morning mist roll off the lake, the only sound was the small ripples of water washing up on shore. I got up from my chair and walked until my toes were right at the edge of the lake. The tiny ripples of water just barely splashed over the soles of my sandals. As the chilly mountain lake tickled my toes, I looked down and saw a small ant scurrying along the edge of the water.
In that moment, I thought about how important perspective can be. To that tiny ant scurrying along, the ripples from the lake were giant-sized. To me, the ripples were barely enough to splash over the edge of my sandal.
A few weeks later, I was back to my sunny southern California beaches learning how to surf. I watched my friend from the shore for a little bit and the waves looked small and friendly enough so I grabbed my board and started to paddle out. In case you’ve never surfed before, you should be forewarned that the hardest part is paddling out past the breaking waves. All of a sudden, as I was laying on my stomach paddling out, those small and friendly waves towered over me and threatened to knock me off my board. What looked small and friendly from the shore became overwhelming when I was in the midst of it.
For the ant by the lake, a small perspective made small things feel giant. For me on my surfboard, a too-close perspective made things feel giant too.
When it comes to circumstances, it’s no different. If our perspective is too narrow and we only look at a problem from our limited point of view, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Or if we’re wrapped up and too close to a situation, we can easily start freaking out. It’s not that the circumstances are all that bad; it’s that our perspective is bad.
I needed that reminder again this week, and maybe you do too. I’d let myself get wrapped up in my circumstances instead of getting wrapped up in the love of God.
I flipped over to Colossians 1:15-20 and decided that instead of spending the morning thinking about my problems, I wanted to think about Jesus. Here’s what I read:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and things on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
All things are created in Jesus. Created through him and for him.
Our new puppy (that refuses to be potty trained)? Created by and for Jesus.
My friends and family? Created by and for Jesus
The home that we live in? Created by and for Jesus.
The people that sometimes drive me crazy? Created by and for Jesus.
My circumstances in life? Created by and for Jesus.
Even the circumstances I was in that were causing me grief that morning?
Created by and for Jesus.
If everything is made in Jesus, created through him and for him, there is NOTHING in my life or yours that Jesus isn’t present in. Those circumstances you wish were different? If you get the right perspective you might just find that Jesus is trying to get your attention. Maybe there’s something he wants you to learn. Or maybe he just wants you to know that he’s holding you and you can stop freaking out because he’s with you and he’s got it under control. I’m not saying there’s no such thing as bad circumstances. Believe me, I know there are. What I am saying is that no matter the circumstance, it will always look better if you can look at it from God’s perspective.
Sometimes we don’t need to change our circumstances. In fact, it might be better for some of us if for a while we stopped asking God to change our circumstances and instead started asking him to change our perspective.
Don’t look at the circumstances.
Look at Jesus.
And then look at your circumstances from Jesus’ perspective. I promise it will all look a lot better.