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Perspective: The Closer You Get, the Harder it Is

GermanyAs I write this, I’m on a plane flying over Wyoming.  I left this morning at 10 a.m. from St. Louis, stopped in Kansas City to switch flights (by the way, avoid this airport unless you enjoy the feeling caged in and hungry) and now I’m headed toward Portland.

As we took off, we went right over the Gateway Arch which marks the start of the Journey Westward.  I went up in the arch yesterday and toured the museum which tells the story of Lewis and Clark and the westward expansion.  One of the things that caught my eye was a display that talked about the advent of the railway and how for $111 a passenger could make the trip from St. Louis to Oregon in 4 days rather than the 8 months it used to take on a wagon.

Today, I paid about $140 to do the trip in 7 hours and it feels long.  This tells me the “long” is all about perspective – asking the question, “compared to what?”

Flying also is a bit deceptive because from 38,000 feet going 438 mph (Southwest lets you track your flight info), things on the ground don’t look that bad.  Sure there are some hills, rivers, mountains, snow banks, lakes, and canyons.  But from this perspective I can easily see how to get around the obstacles, that mountains have another side, and that there are towns ahead.  From ground level, up close things are harder and more daunting.

So, perspective matters.  The closer you get, the harder it is.

And this is where I feel a tension as someone who helps other people.  I find it easy to form a strategy and plan for other people’s lives but that guy in the mirror is much harder to deal with.  It is much easier to deal with other people’s unruly kids than my own.  It is easier to guide someone else in being a disciple rather than growing my own faith.

And so I ask of you several things as we partner in helping kids and families:

  • Give understanding and grace.  We have a tendency to write off the message because the messenger is flawed.  Imagine what would have happened to the Ninevites if they had written off Jonah!
  • Encourage people. When we are in the midst of our problems, another perspective can be really helpful, even if it doesn’t answer all the present needs.  There are things that each of us experience in life that give us perspective that can be really encouraging and helpful for others.
  • Remember: Both perspectives can be right and both can be incomplete.  We are best when we connect with those that may see things differently.


Do you think your perspective is “close” or “far”?  Is it accurate?  How have you gotten a better perspective of something in the past?