My friend described her life in the past few weeks – tearful, chaotic with unmet expectations, things torn up to be fixed that ended up exactly the same, only messier. But then this, “I’m grateful for a life rich in opportunity to dredge things up that God is working on in me.”
Don’t you love her perspective? I hear in her gratitude a shift from focus on the circumstance to God’s transformational purposes.
Shift in perspective. How do you get there?
Pay attention to what your body and soul are telling you in response to what you are experiencing. Are you unsettled, angry, hurt, weepy, impatient, irritated? Those are clues to your path forward.
During our last Velvet Ashes Retreat, we looked at the interaction between Moses and Jethro in Exodus 18. As I read I felt a sense of dread, literally a heaviness and tightness in my chest and breathing.
In the story, God clarified and pruned Moses’ calling. Moses’ vision was both too narrow and too broad. Too narrowly focused on immediate needs. Too broad in keeping his hands in the day-to-day minutia rather than the refined focus on what was uniquely his to do. I sensed that in myself and recognized God’s ask of me to shift in my approach to work was being met with hesitancy and a “not yet” resistance.
Lamenting is an ancient process of pouring out to God what you are experiencing in a relationship, circumstance, disappointment, or trial. Whether written or verbalized, this process allows your brain to process the emotional content. Doing so moves your thinking to the more creative part of your brain that can consider other perspectives, is open to new insight, and able to move past obstacles.
I mourned my compulsion to be in the midst of busy work when He has called me to develop, encourage, and release others. I grieved my over-attachment to my ideas and projects and reluctance in releasing them.
I lamented over my desire to get the credit. Rather than be satisfied when I hear one of “my” ideas repeated, owned, or championed, I tend to think “that’s mine.” This mindset will always limit my influence.
This is small thinking and living. Shift my thinking, Lord!
The shift happens when we lean into God’s purposes, asking for insight from Him on the situation, which allows us to see differently, more clearly, more in line with truth.
In Moses’ life and mine, God’s design is to multiply our efforts by entrusting others.
My thinking about “my” ideas was off. God gives ideas to me to steward, not hoard. My unredeemed tendency is to be like the one talent servant, afraid if I let go of this idea, I won’t have another. So I bury it, waste it, and don’t invest it into a project or person.
But ideas don’t belong to me. They are gifts from our Father, given for the benefit of others, to equip and build up, nurturing them to do God’s work.
I want to live an open, spacious life of influence by leaning into God’s design to be generous with ideas, investment, nurture, and promotion of others.
The shift is from my thinking to God’s.
I am indebted to Tony Stoltzfus, author of The Invitation: Transforming the Heart through Desire Fulfilled, for shaping my understanding of how perspective questions lead us to lean into God’s purposes in hard situations.
Here are a few of my favorite “perspective shift” questions. If you are feeling stuck, choose one or two to explore, asking God for insight and understanding about your situation.
- What might this difficult season look like if I could see the bigger picture?
- What about this loss/challenge/difficulty creates space for an opportunity?
- How would I respond differently if I knew this wasn’t about me, but connected to bringing about good for someone else?
- What about my character is being challenged?
- What opportunity would open up if I let go of this?
- How is the disappointment with this outcome creating potential for transformation?
- What do I want to be true about me at the end of this trial?
- What is being built into me through this that prepares me for living out God’s purpose for me?
- If Jesus was more concerned about my relationship with Him than in a particular outcome of this circumstance, what would that mean for me moving forward?
What have you found that jars you loose from focusing on your situation to shifting to a perspective focused on God’s purposes?
We invite you to share in The Grove. You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
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