Sometimes I Lose Perspective

Sometimes I lose perspective.

December was an amazing month and at the start of the New Year, anything seemed possible.

Then I returned to work.

The Patriots lost their playoff game.

My husband started chemo.

My daughter came down with a bronchial virus that sapped her energy

Then she passed it on to me.

And by this week, not only did my wildest dreams not seem possible but my day to day survival seemed in doubt.

Yesterday, I gave in to the virus and did nothing – really nothing. I felt too tired to read and so I watched television – all day.

And through the day it felt like my life had come to nothing. My house was dirty. I needed a shower. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. Scripture made no sense. My only prayer was “Have mercy.” I couldn’t cook or work or imagine ever being able to do any of that ever again. Yup. One day of yielding to illness and I was ready for an intervention.

Fortunately, my daughter is studying American History and we rented Warm Springs – the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s battle with polio at the age of thirty-nine that resulted in the loss of the use of his legs. FDR had been on the path to the presidency when he was side-lined by a debilitating illness – not the loss of his legs, but the loss of his perspective.

Vital to his recovery were the people around him who refused to pity him or coddle him or let him give up on his dreams. He struggled to regain his physical strength and his emotional stamina for several years before he returned to the campaign trail and eventually served his country as commander-in-chief. By the time he was president, the character he had developed during his rehabilitation deepened his compassion, his self-knowledge and his relationship with his wife. It changed the people around him, too.

It made me think about our modern perspective – especially American Christians. We expect to live the Reader’s Digest version of life – just the highlights with all the boring parts edited out. When we encounter the humdrum of long lines at the DMV or extended illnesses or setbacks or thwarted goals, many of us collapse like soda bottles in the sun.

I’m not a fan of Conan O’Brien but I liked what he had to say in the closing speech of his last Tonight Show. “All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. Paul didn’t expect to spend years in prison or shipwrecked. John did expect to be exiled to Patmos. Peter didn’t expect to become a fisher of men. Corrie ten Boom didn’t expect to be hiding Jews in her home. Elizabeth Elliot didn’t expect her husband to be killed by the tribesman he prayed to befriend. Joni Erickson didn’t expect to have to learn to paint with her teeth.

Americans love to set goals, devise five-year plans and make every moment count. God likes to interrupt us, detour us, derail us and generally upset our apple carts along the way to accomplish His purpose for our lives and He’s not all about goals or accomplishments or what we can produce in any given week.

Today, I felt well enough to get my house in order. I washed two week’s worth of laundry, cleaned out the fridge, showered and started writing again. January didn’t go as expected. That’s OK. There’s more to come.


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7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cheri says:

    Lori,

    The truth of your post brought me comfort and peace. It is so true. I could relate to everything you shared, losing perspective and gaining it back.

    My favorite paragraph was this one: “Americans love to set goals, devise five-year plans and make every moment count. God likes to interrupt us, detour us, derail us and generally upset our apple carts along the way to accomplish His purpose for our lives and He’s not all about goals or accomplishments or what we can produce in any given week.”

    Love you blog!
    Cheri

    PS – I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  2. Cheri says:

    Meant to say, “Love youR blog!”

    😉

  3. Mike W. says:

    Two passages came to mind, concerning goals and five-year plans:

    1.) “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord guides his steps.” ~ Prov. 16:9

    2.) Not really a ‘passage’ but a translation of the Yiddish expression, “Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.” Which means, “Man plans, God laughs.”

    (That’s also been expressed as, “You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”)

    I assume that’s holy laughter. 😉

    (Will keep your man in prayer, btw…and, you, too!)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lori – This is very timely – It is so easy to lose sight of the mark and get waysided by “life”. Thanks for the reminder that all is not lost.

    Blessings.

  5. Cheri, we must be twins separated at birth, no? You bless me again.

  6. Mike, you crack me up! I love those quotes! Thanks for the prayers. Always welcome. Enjoy your snow.

  7. Stay strong, anonymous. Stay the course!