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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

WANT A MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE?

November 3, 2009 2 comments

Believe it or not, all it takes is a slight change of perspective.

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Most of us tend to blame our attitude on our circumstances when it’s actually our perspective on our circumstances that’s most responsible for our attitude. Have you not ever thought it curious how two people in very similar situations can have two completely different outlooks on life? Some people, no matter their situation, take the view that things could always be better. This hinders them from appreciating how good things actually are. Others, whatever their particular lot in life, view their position from the perspective that things could always be worse. This gracious realism allows them to appreciate the not-so-bad parts of their circumstances. It’s a subtle shift in perspective that makes all the difference.

On my best days I’ll sometimes approach life from this perspective and am never ceased to be amazed at the difference it makes in my attitude. For example:

  • When I find myself getting consumed with thoughts of home improvements, I’ll sometimes pause and think, “Just suppose I had a one bedroom house with a dirt floor like they do in many third world countries.”
  • When I find myself getting consumed with negative thoughts about the money I pay for health insurance, I’ll sometimes pause and think, “Just suppose I had thousands of dollars worth of medical bills and no insurance.”
  • When I find myself getting stressed about giving so much money to the IRS each year, I’ll sometimes pause and think, “Just suppose I didn’t have a job.”
  • When I find myself getting worked up about minor inconveniences I’ll sometimes pause and think, “Just suppose Heather, Haven, Pierce, or I had a major, life threatening health problem.”

It’s interesting what happens when I allow myself to consider these less desirable scenarios. The result is that I invariably become more thankful for my blessings and more aware of what’s really important in life. I realize that while my situation in life could perhaps be better than it is, my situation in life could certainly be worse than it is. And for whatever reason, with this realization comes an improvement in my perspective and my attitude.

Perhaps we’d do ourselves a favor if, the next time we begin to bemoan our present circumstances, we’d pause long enough to recall this simple, perspective-altering, attitude-improving phrase: things could always be worse.

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WHAT A BROADWAY SHOW AND A BIBLICAL PSALM HAVE IN COMMON

October 17, 2009 1 comment

Earlier this year Heather and I watched Wicked at the Orpheum in Memphis–a thoroughly enjoyable experience. If you have yet to see it, Wicked tells the stories of the witches from the Wizard of Oz. Once you see it, you’ll never again look at the Wizard of Oz the same way. Wicked changes your perspective by telling the familiar story from a different angle.

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Shortly after my trip to Memphis, I began reading and studying Psalm 22. This Psalm voices the cry of an innocent sufferer. The sufferer in this Psalm alternates between his bitter experience and his unyielding faith, between what he knows to be real about life and what he knows to be true about God. His relentless struggle finally pays off, as his prayer for the help he desires becomes his praise for the help he receives.

This Psalm is worth reading because it expresses the perplexities of suffering and validates the feelings of abandonment that we feel at crucial times in our lives. In fact, Jesus, in his great moment of trial, reached for this very Psalm and made its words his own as he cried from the cross, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

Although these words–Why have you forsaken me?–are the most famous words of the psalm, they are not the final words. The last words of the Psalm–he has done it–sound a lot like some of Jesus’ last words–It is finished. They also sound a lot like Paul’s words in Romans 8:3–God did. What did God do? He condemned sin in the flesh. How did he do it? By sending his own son in the flesh and allowing him to suffer and bleed and die on account of humanity’s sin.

In the end, Psalm 22 functions much like Wicked: it changes our perspective and causes us to never again look at something the same way. Psalm 22 changes our perspective on suffering–both Jesus’ and our own–by reminding us of one guarantee we’ve been given in Scripture. In a world with few guarantees, God promises that suffering will not have the last word. It didn’t in Psalm 22 for the psalmist. It didn’t in Matthew 27 for our Savior. And, thanks to Jesus, it won’t for us either. The final word is not suffering; it’s not death. The final word is resurrection; the final word is victory.

So the next time your faith and experience collide, remember Psalm 22 and remember:

  • God did.
  • He has done it.
  • It is finished.
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