Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Lack of Perspective

"Young man, you see only the sand at your feet and what you are eating that you wish was something else. I don't tell you this as a rebuke; you are very ordinary in your views. Most people are just like you, disgusted with themselves for what they are and what they eat and what they drive. Most of us never stop to think that there are quite literally millions in this world who lack our blessings and opportunities, have no food to eat at all, and no hope of ever owning a car. The situation in which you find yourself is fraught with difficulty, yes. It is also piled high with benefits...a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life."
--Andy Andrews, The Noticer

On page 13 of the book The Noticer by Andy Andrews, I read the above quote, then read it again, and then again. It's not like I've never thought of these things before. It's common knowledge that people are literally starving because they can't afford to put food on the table. We've all seen the devastating pictures of sick children and the parents who can't afford to treat them, and we are well aware that many of us who live in this country are much better off than those who do not. So I couldn't figure out why I found this particular passage so fascinating until I sat down here to pray and write. And then it dawned on me: I know all these things, but I still have an ungrateful heart.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for many things. I say a blessing before I eat, I bow my head in prayer at church, and I mind my P's and Q's. I'm doing the "right" things, but the heart behind it is in need of some perspective.

I am very ordinary in my views.

There are many times in life where I choose to look for the negative instead of the positive. Where I stop at the "fraught with difficulty" and don't see to the "piled high with benefits".

There are several things that I've always wanted from life: peace, happiness, and love. I always thought those things just kind of...happened to a lucky few who seemed happy and at peace with life.

I've rarely stopped to consider that I have a part in getting from life what I want.

My own unhappiness and discontentment has always been someone else's fault. I've even blamed God for not filling me up. I've argued with Him, pleaded with Him, and resolved to work harder for this elusive thing called Happiness. I suppose I could even say I've asked Him on an occasion or two to just zap me with Happiness so I could move on. But, it seems, God is not in the business of zapping people, and I am no exception. He is, however, in the business of refining His children, using even the most difficult of circumstances to create in them a grateful and content heart.

This makes the passage that I've heard a thousand times mean so much more to me: "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength." {Philippians 4:11-13}.

The strength is Christ's. The perspective is mine.

No, I'm not saying I have found all the secrets. There are mysteries that people will search for forever and never find. But I do know this: the secret of being content in any and every situation begins with a grateful heart.

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