When I take a step back from the stresses and challenges of my fairly ordinary daily life—family, work, home and car repairs, short-lived sickness, commuting, paying bills—I see that I’m pretty blessed. But when I’m in the midst of paying the bills or dealing with getting a car into the shop for repairs, these fairly routine stresses and concerns can seem huge. It’s like standing too close to a painting in an art museum that’s made up of dots of color (Pointillism). You have to step back to “get the picture.” If I have my nose too close to the artwork of my life, I fail to see that piece of my life in the context of my entire life. I also fail to see my particular piece of artwork (my life) in the larger context of the people in my life and in the broader world.
A Step Back
I was down with a virus the past few days. I had put together a long list of things to accomplish on Monday (my day off), but didn’t manage to cross a single thing off the list. I was home sick again on Tuesday. Now that I’m back to work, I’m trying to play catch-up here in the office and am aware of several things that somehow must be taken care of outside of work by the end of the week. But I’m feeling much better. My virus was a speed bump—not a road closure or major detour.
Some people in my life aren’t so lucky. My brother Mark and good friend Lauren are both undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. A coworker has been admitted to the hospital. Their lives are radically changed, their routines messed up for the foreseeable future, their futures less certain, their discomfort and anxiety greater. My challenges are quite small in comparison.
A Prayer for Perspective
Good and gracious God, thank you for the many blessings in my life. Help me to keep in proper perspective the challenges that come my way in life. Help me to be present to others who are facing greater challenges than I. Help me to not lose sight of the “bigger picture” of life. Help me to not “sweat the small stuff” of my life. Help me to be available to respond to the much bigger stuff that people in my world—both near and far, known to me or not—are facing. Guide my focus, Lord, so that ultimately my gaze is on you and your will. Amen.