gaining perspective

The problem with our individual perspectives is that they’re always anchored to our experiences and fed by our fears and dreams.  The beauty of our individual perspectives is that they’re unique.  The events, environments, and experiences that foster our perspectives are as unique as our fingerprints.  It is beautiful and terrible at the same time.

We go through life with the filters of our unique perspectives determining the ways in which we comprehend and interpret our surroundings.  The filters are built over time, and although they may grow and shift as we do, repetitive experiences make them stronger and more difficult to dislodge.  They can also be described as biases or even prejudices, which limit what we see, and how we interpret what we see.

We enjoy movies, books, and experiences that expose us to other parts of our world and briefly allow us to peer into the unfamiliar, but still, we judge the value and quality of those encounters through our own filters.  We do so dramatically and selfishly, seeking our own benefit and the endorsement of our own positions and desires.  We look for affirmation for our opinions and experiences.  We justify ourselves – our decisions, our lifestyles, our lack and our excess.

The beauty in this is that we’re not alone with our perspectives.  Very few of us are ever isolated from contact with other humans and their perspectives, and even if we are, it’s temporary.

Our ideas and fears and dreams and opinions, bump into others constantly, and are shaped by those new encounters.  When you put lots of humans together on the same planet, and they all bring their individual stuff and pile it on the global table, it’s like Legos on steroids.  When we work together, we do amazing things, empowered by the magic of unique perspectives brought to bear on common problems.

But we fight a lot, don’t we?  We argue over the different colors of Legos and who has more, and we destroy what others have built to protect our own structures from perceived threats.  Like a parent of six billion brats, God must get frustrated with us.

In the movie Cold Mountain, prior to the official outbreak of the civil war, Reverend Monroe, Ada’s father, is walking through their beautiful countryside with Inman and Ada at his side and says to Inman that he refuses to preach war for either side from his pulpit.  Inman, who has enlisted and plans to join the confederates when war is declared, though somewhat reluctantly, says, “I reckon God is weary of being called down on both sides of an argument.”  Reverend Monroe, stunned by Inman’s quiet, uneducated wisdom, replies, “Yes, I reckon he is.”

When two (or more) of my children come to me with a conflict, most of the time I’m clueless about how to respond, and I’m more motivated by my own interests in moving on to what I perceive as important.  I offer some quick advice, some command to cease and desist, threaten punishment, offer consolation, then hope for the best.

When I get an offer for a job, someone else who was competing for that same job – in my case, a woman I don’t know from Farmington, New Mexico who probably has a family and hopes and dreams as I do, and probably prays to God to get the job – gets a rejection letter.  I’m happy, she’s not, but her happiness only briefly concerns me, if at all.  My perspective is anchored to me.

What does God see, though?  Can you imagine?  The variables and volumes and all of us talking to him at the same time.  It must be worse than 12 people around the dinner table in my house.  Yet, God perseveres.  He must see the beauty in this that frequently escapes my self-focused view.

I want to see what he sees.  I want to see from God’s perspective.  More and more, that’s my prayer:  “Lord, let me see what your eyes see.  Let me hear what you hear.  Let me feel and smell and taste what you do.  At least in my limited exposure to your world.  Let me see the beauty in the pain and the joy of this life.”

Jesus says that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, the Father will give to us.  Maybe if I could see from his perspective, with my view anchored to him, rather than myself, I would finally be able to ask for things “in his name.”  Maybe, if I can turn the filters of self-exaltation and comfort off for a while, I could see what God sees, and desire what he desires.  I want to want what he wants, and I think that’s what he wants.

4 thoughts on “gaining perspective”

  1. It’s 1:50 am. I’m awake and your blog makes me feel less alone.

    One of the sci-fi thought-experiments I play around with involves the absurdity of space and time, of a God who can be everywhere at once. It concerns perspectives and goes like this: Life is a movie that has already been filmed from countless unique perspectives and at present we are watching through one of its character’s eyes.

    In this fantasy, reality is a virtual simulation. When we die we wake up in a room with attendants who unhook us from an apparatus that has just played back one of life’s many lives, namely, the one we just “lived”.

    It’s like a t.v. show or video game; as soon as you’re done with one you can move on to the next which might be a pauper on the streets of Zimbabwe, or the King of an ancient tribe no one remembers. You could be a cockroach or a mountain, the choice is yours. While in the simulation you cannot remember the other lives you’ve viewed (unless you’re Shirley McClain) or what things are like in the real world. You cannot effect what will happen (the movie has already been filmed) but the experience is so immersive you often find yourself feeling what your character feels and it feels like a choice.

    In this day dream our real selves exist outside the pretend world, comfortably lounging in a cosmic space recliner with incomprehensible goggles affixed to our eyeless faces. We put our consciousness into this restricted universe for the same reasons people play games with rules that limit what they can do to a pre-determined set of agreed-upon conditions: because we like to have fun. We’re willing to risk bad times (ie, losing, getting killed in a war) for the thrill we feel when things go right (we win, live a happy life).

    Sometimes I pretend we get to pick our character’s stats before hand- things like wisdom, intelligence, charisma- and the fun is watching how our choices effect the outcome. Sometimes I pretend the simulation is like a training video and once you have experienced every perspective throughout all of time you get to start your job, although what that job might be I cannot fathom.

    Bed time.

    Love you, bro.


  2. Nathan: As usual, I’m amazed at what goes on in your brain. That is fabulous and far more intriguing than what happens in my brain. Brilliant!

    Megan: Sometime I’ll share what God sees when he looks at you. No opting out.


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