Keeping Perspective

Barbara DahlgrenNeat and tidy! That’s how I like it! A place for everything and everything in its place! I like routine, order, organization. I like life to run smoothly and at an even keel. Don’t rock my boat. Don’t rattle my cage. Don’t shake my tambourine. Don’t upset my apple cart. And don’t keep me from marking off a number on my “to-do” list.

Unfortunately, life is not neat and tidy. It’s messy. Life is just one inconvenience after another.

Recently one of my best friends died—my computer. Although I’m not a techie, I love writing, researching, e-mailing and doing computer stuff. Picking out a new “best friend” is a daunting task when you aren’t computer savvy. Techie friends aren’t very helpful because they use terms like CPU, gigabyte, PC, megabyte, and RAM assuming I know what they mean.

When the technician said he might not be able to retrieve my material, I was sad, but not disheartened. After all, being the organized person I am, I had two backups. However, through some fluke, neither of my backups worked. Then I became disheartened. As I write this on a borrowed computer, we still aren’t sure if my material can be saved.

Dealing with life’s inconveniences can be stressful, time consuming, and overwhelming. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep perspective and discern the difference between an inconvenience and a tragedy. 

This really came home to me about seven years ago when I got a phone call informing me that my stepsister and her whole family had been killed instantly in a car crash. My “to-do” list fell by the wayside as I flew back to the Midwest for the funeral, trying to comfort my folks though I was heartsick myself.

Suddenly my whole perspective had changed. A flat tire, a snoring spouse, a missed appointment, a late airplane, a lost game, the guy who cut me off in traffic, the gossipy co-worker, the slow Internet connection, the stock market being down, my weight being up or my computer crashing didn’t seem like quite as big a deal as it all did before.

Fortunately, God is with us whether our crisis is large or small. His perspective is the one that really counts, because he loves us and knows what is best for us in any given situation. What happens to us is not as important as who we are in Jesus, who lives in us and is our all in all. 

Life is not neat and tidy; it’s unpredictable. Major tragedies and minor inconveniences will always abound. I think it’s helpful to discern the difference between the two, but if the trial is big or small, God is with us through it all (Matthew 28:20b).

More and more, I’m realizing that Jesus is not as concerned about my routine, my boat, my cage, my tambourine, my apple cart, or my “to do” list as I am. He doesn’t always shield me from life’s woes, but he will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). After all, he is a much better friend than my computer, and his backup never fails (John 15:14-15)! 

Barbara Dahlgren, 2011

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