Several times a week someone asks me: How is your husband? I answer: He is doing well. This question is asked because my husband, Jake, has lived in quarantine since March 12, 2020 and, yes, he is just fine.
People often react by asking Are you sure? How does he cope? I have pondered their questions and have stumbled on what I think is a big part of the answer: PERSPECTIVE.
My husband’s 8.6 decades of life have given him perspective. He grew up very poor during the depression. His family was separated when his father and brother went looking for work after they lost their farm. The family relocated far away from family and friends. They lived in a one-room house with no indoor plumbing. As a little boy, he watched his much-older twin brothers go off to war in the South Pacific. Though he became a stellar student and athlete in high school, he never dreamed he could go to college until a beloved coach planted a new perspective in his mind and heart.
Through the years Jake built a great life for himself and his family, but it was not without heartache. His beloved wife developed brain cancer and eventually died. His grief was deep and absorbed his whole perspective for a season. We eventually married, and thirteen years later he was diagnosed with an incurable (but treatable) neuromuscular disease that drastically changed his perspective of who he was. This big, strong guy who built his own cinder block barn and cut down trees after a full day of work as an automotive engineer now needed help opening a water bottle.
Life taught Jake that challenges could be faced, hurdles could be surmounted, and success could be celebrated. Today—as he lives in quarantine with the perspective that age, life experience, and faith brings—he is just fine. He knows who he is and who his God is. He is thankful for his children and grandchildren even though he can’t see them right now. He looks back on his life with gratitude. He trusts that God is continuing to walk with him through this time of his life. He has a positive perspective.
PERSPECTIVE STARTS IN OUR MINDS
Perspective is a funny thing. It starts in our thoughts, morphs into feelings, and ultimately reveals itself in the things we say to ourselves. What we say to ourselves is our perspective.
What was the first thing you said to yourself when you woke up this morning? It is likely that this single thought has colored your perspective of the day so far. That thought has the power to make you smile or frown. It can cause you to face your day with hope or despair. Thoughts are powerful. They often invade our minds and hearts outside of our control.
THOUGHTS LEAD TO FEELINGS
Our thoughts quickly lead to feelings. Critical thoughts become anger. Envious thoughts turn into resentment. Thoughts of the past can create regret or gratitude. Thoughts of the future can lead to despair or hope.
Feelings are real, but feelings are also not reliable indicators of objective reality. Feeling like the world is falling apart does not make it so. Feeling like I can’t take the restrictions that Covid has put on my life for one more day doesn’t mean that I can’t survive it. Feeling alone does not mean I am.
PERSPECTIVE REVEALS ITSELF IN THE THINGS WE SAY TO OURSELVES
Our internal dialog reveals our perspective.
I can’t stand this… means that you are facing a situation with a hopeless perspective.
I will get through this… means that you are facing the situation with a hopeful perspective.
People are cruel….means that you are engaging in over-generalization.
My kids are not learning anything… means that you are facing this situation with overreaction.
My kids will be scarred for life… means that you are facing this situation with negativity.
We have grown closer as a family… means that you are facing this situation with gratitude.
Here are three challenges for today:
- Challenge those perspectives that hurt you or those around you.
- Bless those you interact within your family, in your workplace, and in random encounters with a perspective that reveals the truth about you and your relationship with your God.
- Read these Bible verses throughout the day.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8