A Shift in Perspective {The Grove: Shift}

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?

  1. Listen

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.

  1. Lament

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!

  1. Lean

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?

Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash


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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  1. Kristi October 4, 2018

    A “poem” to share:
    Shifting shadows
    Bring the poison of
    To the surface
    Panic and pain
    Soon follow
    But my
    My Great Physician
    Draws out the poison
    As the shadows
    Shift Light flickers
    And burns away
    The toxins of doubt
    The antidote to fear?
    The glory of God
    In the face of
    of Jesus Christ

    1. Patty S October 5, 2018

      Kristi, someday I will be reading these pieces of word art in your book. I can’t wait!

  2. Grace L October 5, 2018

    Hi Patty. As always, I really enjoy your posts. I have copied your list of “perspective shift” questions to a Word doc so I can process these more as I journal. As I am working through a difficult relationship with some teammates, I will challenge myself to ask these questions. In fact, I find these questions to be very challenging and not ones I want to easily answer. But that is the point of a “perspective shift”, isn’t it. Thank you for your insights that help so many of us on the field.

    1. Patty S October 5, 2018

      Oh Grace, may your commitment to work through the hard stuff to get to the heart of God’s purposes in this relationship bear much fruit!
      And thanks for your kind encouragement!

  3. Beverly Mosley October 5, 2018

    I had acknowledged, at least partially, that I am in a season of transition. But current perspective has me so close to myself, I’m only seeing the woundedness of change.
    So this arrow hit directly into the bullseye of my life. I’ll be reading this over several times to let these ideas soak in and take root .

    1. Patty S October 5, 2018

      Beverly, may you know how deeply and fully you are loved by our Father as you listen, lament, and lean into His purposes in this transition. May His insight and understanding mark your journey through this season.

  4. Shelly October 5, 2018

    LIke Beverly, I have copied the questions to a Word doc for use in the days ahead. I miss being around those who will ask me good questions (like YOU, Patty!), and these will help me get out of the “hole” i feel in right now. Patty I appreciate the examples that you included.

    1. Patty S October 5, 2018

      We all miss you over here, Shelly! I know this is a hard season for you and I’m asking for our good, good Father to surround you with His sustaining care. I love you, friend!

  5. Ellie October 8, 2018

    Ooh, I love the “what opportunity would open up if I let go of this?” – such a powerful question for me because I often feel worried about “letting people down” but that’s a really positive way of framing it. Even if it was “only” ‘I’d have time to do the study I need to do for my course without stressing out all the time’ – that could be a good opportunity and not a bad thing!!!

    1. Patty S October 8, 2018

      Hey Ellie, I like how you’ve applied that question to shift your perspective! Sometimes we just need a little nudge in our thinking to see the wisdom (or folly) of what we are thinking and bring correction to an area that is stressful. Love it! Happy Studying!

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