A week ago, (after 10 long weeks), I was finally able to make a trip to the library. My husband patiently walked alongside me as I hobbled slowly from the car park; and stepped triumphantly into our well stocked local library. An hour later I emerged with a big smile on my face, armed with 3 bulging bags filled to capacity with 23 books and 4 DVD’s.
I first decided to bury my nose in ‘Starting Over’ by Tony Parsons. I’d read a few books by this author so I knew his books were good. This particular story was about a 42 year old man whose heart stops working. He receives the heart of a 19 year old boy. His life changes. Drastically. He gives up his job. He becomes someone he was not - a buddy to his teenage son and daughter rather than a father to them. His happy marriage of 20 years starts to unravel. He craves his old life back. But he can’t have it. A good story.
Next, I picked up another book that piqued my curiosity called ‘The Piano Man’ by Marcia Preston. You know what I found surprising? The plot in this book was very similar to the one in the previous story. The main character in the book, loses her 17 year old son in an accident. Her son’s heart is given to a middle aged man.
Another story then, where a teenage boy’s heart is gifted to a forty-something man. A very similar story but also very different. The difference was in perspective. A Mum’s perspective in this one compared to the heart patient’s perspective in the book I first read. I was surprised I’d chosen to read two books with similar stories one after the other. I have a good feeling about this one too. I’m enjoying it and wanting more.
As I reflected on the two stories – I pondered the different perspectives we are offered in life. I thought of how different life could be on my side of the fence compared to life on my neighbour’s side of the same fence. Years ago, at a Christian camp, I was shown very vividly how two people’s perspectives on the same situation could be very different but both equally valid. Two youngsters were asked to sit with a large piece of cardboard between them. They were asked to share what colour the cardboard strip was. One insisted it was ‘white’. The other that it was ‘black’. Who was right? In actual fact, both were right. One side of the board was painted white and the other side painted black. I never forgot the lesson. The truth is that you and I may experience identical situations but our perspectives could be very different. But we could both be right – even if only partially so.
How important then to stop, consider, and understand another’s point of view before jumping to conclusions. How important that I not judge him. In order to get along with others, I need to keep my heart and my ears open – to listen to others. To hear them. Not to make assumptions. To try walking in their shoes so I can understand them better. How could I empathise with others unless I see life from their side of town?
And then – there are also different perspectives on the one event. As I look back on my own life, I find occasions when I was offered the choice of holding one of two very different perspectives. The choice of feeling sorry for myself and thinking dark thoughts or alternatively seeking God’s perspective on what happened. I admit that I didn’t always choose God’s vantage point. Sometimes when life threw me lemons, I floundered badly, unable to make even a drop of lemonade.
But each time I let go of my perspective (‘Life’s not fair. I want what I want!'), gave in to God and asked Him to show me a better view – He showed me His perspective – often how He would make the negative situation work out for my good. So I’ve learnt through experience how wise it is to view the world through God's lenses rather than through my own clouded glasses. When I choose God’s persepective while going through hard times, I can rejoice in the fact that in Jesus, I am always a conqueror.
And so, even in the midst of adversity, I could raise a flag, beat a drum and put on my dancing shoes.
What’s life for you looking like right now? Has it delivered what you asked of it? Or has it once again tripped you up? Let me offer you some hope. The night may be long, but the stars shine brightest at the night’s darkest hour.
I love this quote which my Grandma used to repeat often:
‘Two men looked out of prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.’
Is it mud or stars that you perceive today, my friend?
Let’s look up at the face of God, enjoying the stars.