Perspective

I am reading a book right now by Joni Eareckson Tada. The book is A Place of Healing: Wrestling With the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty.
A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty

Facing daily challenges is all about keeping the proper perspective. Joni had a diving accident in 1967 and has lived ever since as a quadraplegic. So she knows a lot about wrestling with the mysteries of suffering, pain, and God's sovereignty. I've been through some difficult places in my life and I know a little bit about that struggle. But she has lived it out far more than I have. I love reading a book that makes me wish I could spend time, face to face, with the author. And this is one of those books. I'm just a few chapters in, and I can't begin to describe how much I admire Joni.

As I'm reading about her injury forty-five years ago, I cannot help but reflect on an accident I had around that same time. I was between the ages of eight and ten. I remember where we lived and that my youngest brother had not been born yet. So I know I was under the age of eleven. We had an above ground pool in the back yard of our home. And the pool was set up on a slab of concrete (something I would not recommend). It was only four and a half or five feet deep. And being a kid (oblivious to the danger and stupidity of what I was doing), I dove into the pool head first and pulled my arms back in an underwater swim motion. The top of my head took the full impact of meeting solid concrete. And I will never forget the sensation. I felt as though my whole back had compressed like an accordian. I could not move. And I was underwater. It was frightening.

My younger brother was in the pool with me. He thought I was joking when I didn't come to the surface right away. How I got to the surface is still a blurred memory. I think my brother helped me and called for our mom. She helped me out of the pool and I remember lying on her bed with a headache afterward. I don't remember going to the doctor. They might have taken me, but I don't think they did. I think because I was able to walk and seemed okay, they just watched me. I can't imagine that I did not at least have a concussion. But I was okay and I had no permanent injury; just a lasting memory of what could have happened to the rest of my life that day.

Had I been paralyzed by that diving accident, everything about the last forty-plus years of my life would be much different. My son wouldn't be here. My grandsons wouldn't be here. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be here in West Virginia with John. And every time I remember that day when my life could have taken a tragic turn, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness that God spared me from knowing those challenges. But at the same time, I can't fathom why I was spared and Joni (or anyone else) was not.

God gives us all different circumstances, challenges, joys and sorrows. Comparing what we go through to what someone else goes through is like comparing apples and oranges. It isn't tremendously helpful or productive in many respects. But I do know that if you focus on someone you believe has had it easier than you have, you will feel sorry for yourself. (You can't possibly know the private pain they may have endured that only God knows.) However, if you focus on all the people in this world who have endured hardships far greater than your own, you will feel blessed and thankful . . . and undeserving. At least, that is the way I feel when I reflect on my life.

It's so easy to let little things frustrate or irritate us, causing us to lose sight of how truly blessed we are. I often think of how Adam and Even had dominion over everything and could eat of every tree in their beautiful garden paradise. God only instructed them to refrain from one thing; the fruit of one tree. And whether this was literal or allegorical, the take-away is the same. They focused on the one thing He withheld instead of all the good and beautiful things He had provided. And look what became of them. Look at what that produced.

I'm preaching this little sermon to myself because I got in a cranky mood yesterday afternoon. I'm hitting midlife head on. Unless I live to be 106, I'm technically past the midway point. With my age comes hormonal fluctuations, hot flashes and the occasional mood swings. They haven't been as bad as I feared they might be. But yesterday I was venting a little frustration and then I stopped and looked at myself. I can say anything to John. He will be honest with me, but he's honest in a kind and humorous way. I said, "You know, maybe I'm the problem. I just feel more on edge and a little more sensitive than usual." He smiled and said, "I think you might be onto something. You do seem a little more bold and assertive with your opinions lately." And then the minute he said it, I saw a look of concern on his face as he said, "Now, please don't start obsessing and beating yourself up over that. It's okay to have opinions."

He knows me. He knows me so well.

I hate being flawed. I wish I could respond in the most appropriate way at all times and in every given situation. But I don't. (Especially on the five days I'm not using my progesterone cream. LOL.)

Since I can't be perfect, I will settle for being real and honest -- confessing my faults to everyone who will listen. Actually, real and honest beats perfection any day. After all, who could relate or connect with me if I were perfect?

I know I'm a bit odd to the average person. A lot of people would want to conceal the areas they feel the weakest and project strength. But not me. I actually feel better when I confront my weaknesses and share them openly. After all, you all see me as I am. I might as well admit that I see me, too! (Nothing worse than being the emporer with no clothes!)

I kind of wish I wasn't quite as expressive and opinionated as I am. But I'm trying to make the best of the personality God gave me. Some days I do better than others. But every day -- even on my crankiest day -- I never lose sight of God's goodness to me and the beautiful life He has given me. Just taking a few minutes to dwell on my many blessings refocuses my perspective on the little frustrations I am occasionally distracted by.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I love being flawed. Those are my greatest assets....gives me empathy. ;-) There has to be nothing worse than hanging out with someone who is perfect.
Love You and miss you Shari.
DeeDee
Shari said…
Now that is the right perspective on flaws, Dee Dee! Why can't I love mine?
I love and miss you too! Come see us!

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