God has been hard at work trying to teach me about perspective lately.  My default perspective is hopelessness.

Is something in my life changing?  Despair!

Is something in my world unpredictable?  Insecurity!

Is something in my environment not exactly (or not at all) how I want it to be?  Kill me now!

Yes, these are my ingrained responses to life.  But God says to me, much like I say to my young daughters, “Oh, no, ma’am.  My children do not respond this way.  This is unacceptable.”

(Or as my 2 yr old says, “Unasseptible”.)

Children of God are supposed to be joyful!  (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Those who have Christ are supposed to be hopeful!  (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 1:18; 1 Peter 1:21)

Joyfulness and hopefulness are not lofty, unattainable things the Bible describes.  They are realities to be enjoyed and displayed in the hearts and lives of believers.

To get more/some/ANY joy and hope in my life, God is reorienting my perspective.  He is changing the ways I view a lot of things.  He is showing me how I’ve worried far too much about details that are momentary and have no bearing on eternity.

For instance, why do I get so worked up over my children dawdling?  Will we not still get to wherever we are going?  Why not allow them 10 extra seconds (!) to stop and smell the roses?  Why allow my blood pressure to rise, my jaw to tighten, and barking commands to HURRY UP come out of my mouth?  The Lord is using Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts to make me stop and smell the roses…  notice the details…  enjoy the details… and control my emotions like a rational adult – like Christ – rather than a stressed-out train wreck.

Yes, God is changing my perspective on the little things to recalibrate my heart.  I must recognize what is little so I can also recognize what is big.  There are big things in life – times when we experience big emotions – that God wants me to respond appropriately to as well.  If I cannot control my emotions and actions regarding dawdling children, how then can I expect myself to remain in check – in joy and in hope – when I experience a major change or loss?

I am learning to chill out.

Frustrations aren’t as frustrating when you’ve been practicing thankfulness.  Bad things don’t seem as devastating when you’ve begun to view things with eternity in mind.

Perhaps the thing I dread most in life is being separated from loved ones.  If someone in my family died, I would dwell on having to live the whole rest of my life without them.  But what is that, really?  Fifty, sixty years…  If we both love the Lord, we’ll be with each other eternally…  And that truth would make the present separation bearable.

Second to a loved one dying is a loved one moving.  Sure, there is technology to keep us in touch, but it’s just not the same…  Not being able to “do life” with those I value most hurts, especially if the separation is indefinite.

I think of our church’s pastor and his family.  They are moving to Ethiopia in 2 months, and our church body is rocked.  They’ll be over there at least 2 years, and who knows where they will go after that.  I’m not as close to them as some, but I will miss them, and the idea of NEVER seeing them again can be depressing.

But God is flipping that for me with this phrase – “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5).

Paul is overflowing with thanks and praise for the church at Philippi, gushing love over them and for the Lord.  He is excited that, although they are physically apart, they are partners in the gospel.

And aren’t we all?  All believers are called to spread the gospel where they are.  That is our chief purpose in life.

It is so neat to me to think that my friends will be spreading the gospel in Ethiopia at the EXACT SAME TIME I am spreading the gospel in Memphis.  We may be physically separated, but we are united in advancing the Kingdom.

And that is a purpose for which I can joyfully let go of my friends, no matter who they are or where the Lord calls them to go.