A Matter of Perspective

As the old Yiddish saying goes, To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish.” Perspective is powerful!  Let’s take a look at a couple of poems that illustrate our tendency to view things with a skewed perspective. 
The Old Oaken Bucket by Samuel Woodworth
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view,
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
And ev’ry lov’d spot which my infancy knew.
The wide spreading stream, the mill that stood near it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell.
The cot of my father, the dairy house by it,
And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well.
The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
The moss-covered bucket I hail as a treasure,
For often at noon when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell.
Then soon with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness it rose from the well.
The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
How soon from the green mossy rim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it reclined to my lips,
Not a full flowing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
Tho’ filled with the nectar that Jupiter sips.
And now far removed from the loved situation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell.
As fancy reverts to my father’s plantation,
And sighs for the bucket that hung in the well.
The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
The Old Oaken Bucket (As revised by the Board of Health)  Anonymous

With what anguish of mind I remember my childhood,

Recalled in the light of knowledge since gained,
The malarious farm, the wet fungus-grown wildwood,
The chills then contracted that since have remained;
The scum-covered duck-pond, the pig-sty close by it,
The ditch where the sour-smelling house drainage fell,
The damp, shaded dwelling, the foul barnyard nigh it
 CBut worse than all else was that terrible well,
And the old oaken bucket, the mold-crusted bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.
Just think of it! Moss on the vessel that lifted
The water I drank in the days called to mind;
Ere I knew what professors and scientists gifted
In the waters of wells by analysis find;
The rotting wood-fiber, the oxide of iron,
The algae, the frog of unusual size,
The water as clear as the verses of Byron,
Are things I remember with tears in my eyes.
Oh, had I but realized in time to avoid them
The dangers that lurked in that pestilent draft
I’d have tested for organic germs and destroyed them
With potassic permanganate ere I had quaffed.
Or perchance I’d have boiled it, and afterwards strained it
Through filters of charcoal and gravel combined;
Or, after distilling, condensed and regained it
In potable form with its filth left behind.
How little I knew of the enteric fever
Which lurked in the water I ventured to drink,
But since I’ve become a devoted believer
In the teachings of science, I shudder to think.
And now, far removed from the scenes I’m describing,
The story of warning to others I tell,
As memory reverts to my youthful imbibing
And I gag at the thought of that terrible well,
And the old oaken bucket, the fungus-grown bucket,
In fact, the slop-bucket– that hung in the well.
We have here an idealistic view followed by a surrealistic view. Neither is grounded in reality.
To illustrate: I once saw three paintings of the same farm. One was idealistic, another was surrealistic, and the other was realistic. The first picture had a beautiful white farmhouse, freshly painted, in perfect repair, coupled with an equally perfect red barn, and a clean and uncluttered barnyard filled with perfect animals. The second picture featured a farmhouse and a barn barely detectable behind a huge manure pile. And, the third picture featured an aged farmhouse and a weathered barn with a somewhat cluttered barnyard filled with scruffy animals and various scattered animal droppings.

Idealism and surrealism are common. Very few persons dwell in the realm of reality– that is the arena of unadulterated truth that Jesus proclaimed “will set us free.” That is truth which hasn’t been distorted by misunderstood experiences or biased instructions from one source or another. No, most of us lean toward idealism or surrealism. Most of us are by nature, and therefore, by habit, either optimistic or pessimistic.
Scientists, who study the brain, tell us we were originally hardwired one way or the other. And, for many, our choices throughout life have strengthened the original wiring. We have actually developed grooves in our brains for carrying positive or negative messages. So much so, that even when we struggle to change our thinking patterns we fall into those ditches. It is only the blessed few who have had their original wiring renewed by putting on the mind of Christ and being restored by His love.
So, what do these poems illustrate?  They show that everything is affected by our perspective.
1. Our past is not simply our past, it’s an interpretation based on perspective.
Children who grow up in the same homes will describe their childhood experience based, not on actual events as much as, on their own personal perspectives. A friend of mine, who visited my family with me a few of years ago, noted that my brother Tim, who is only 2 years younger than I,  seems to have a more positive view of his childhood than I do of mine. I reluctantly explained to her that at birth I was simply “another big girl” (not the son my parents hoped for) and that he entered the world as the firstborn son, which brought him a favored status in the home. And also, that when Mother died, Dad softened and raised the boys in a kinder and more generous way than he had raised my sister Charlotte and me. 
 
And that leads into a pertinent story from my childhood. Since I’m aware of the importance of perspective and I’m trying to get a clearer picture of my childhood, I recently asked my dad if he thought I was a difficult child to raise. (Not a good question unless you’re looking for truth.) He first responded that he didn’t see any of his children as especially difficult, but then he paused and added,Well, there was the door slamming incident in Oregon.” And, then he added that I was a nosy child, always popping up when people were trying to take pictures. There were no negative comments about my siblings (though I could have added a few) but I didn’t get offended at him because I was seeking truth and I knew I needed to see things through adult eyes to help balance the immature perspective I still carried from my childhood. 
That conversation helped me, but not the way I thought it would. It helped me realize that I wasn’t as “wicked” as I ended up feeling because not “everything” that happened was my fault.  I was 7or 8 years old, at the time and in anger I had slammed the screen door of my grandparent’s house because I felt rejected by both my peers and my parents. The physical discipline didn’t hurt nearly as bad as the responsibilty I felt for the tumultuous reaction to my actions. Finally grasping the truth about that incident has set me free. Yes, I was wrong to slam the door but door slamming is not a crime worthy of endless self-flagellation. And I was not responsible for the behavior of others. A little self-administered grace is appropriate after all these years.
What hurtful memories do you need to re-examine from an adult perspective so you can be set free from the collateral damage? 
2. Our present is colored by our perspective.
3. Our relationships are consistently affected by our perspective.
4. The way we see ourselves is a matter of perspective. (Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”)
5. Our future prospects are limited or enhanced by our perspective.

All of life is directly affected by how we view things. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Real freedom only comes with a Godly perspective: a spiritual outlook. The fruit of the Spirit grows in the light of the truth! Truth is not simply something you believe is right. Truth is absolute. It is God’s revelation of what is right. God alone knows the truth so He’s the only One who can tell it to us. His Word is the foundation for all truth. Our perspective will never be righteous until it is built on God’s Word. It must always line up with the Word of God or it will lead us astray. We need God’s guidance every moment!
Let’s look at some examples of how perspective affects people.  First, let’s review the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah 52 and 53.
Suffering Servant
Behold, My Servant shall act wisely; He shall be magnified and lifted up and be very high. Just as many were stunned at Him, His appearance was disfigured more than any man, and His shape more than the sons of men, so shall He startle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall understand.   Isaiah 52:13-15
Who has trusted our report? And to whom has the strength of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no figure or beauty; and when we see Him, there is nothing about His appearance that pleases us. He is contemptible and considered frail by men, a Man dealing with physical and mental pain and experiencing maladies. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was thought of as vile and worthless, and we did not value Him or even give Him much thought.
But, in very fact (stated emphatically), He has taken away our sicknesses and borne our physical and mental pain; yet we considered Him plagued, punished by God, and oppressed. But He was dishonored, violated, and pierced for our rebellion, He was beat to pieces for our perversity; the correction for our soundness, health, prosperity, and friendship was upon Him, and by His wounds we are made healthy. All we like sheep have erred; we have turned, every one, to his own course of life; and the LORD has caused to fall on Him the punishment for the perversity of us all.
He was distressed and He was humiliated, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.  By coercion, He was deprived of justice, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken.  And He was given a burial place with the ungodly, but with the wealthy at His death, because He had done nothing wrong, nor did anything false come from in His mouth.
Yet it delighted the LORD to crush Him; He has made Him weak, sick and diseased. When You make His life an offering for sin, He shall see His posterity, He shall lengthen His days, and the delight of the LORD shall succeed in His strength. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.  Isaiah 53:1-12    (I amplified this passage for clarity.)
What did the spiritually blind people see when they beheld Jesus?

An unattractive wimp. (No beauty, no figure, nothing desirable about Him.)
A frail person unworthy of a second glance. (Contemptible.)
A grief stricken loser. (Tortured, sickly, vile and worthless.)
A man suffering under the judgement of God. 

What do people with spiritual insight see when they behold Jesus?
The Beautiful Prince of Peace.
The Mighty Warrior-God who is worthy of our attention and praise.
A Compassionate Lover of our souls who is Triumphant over sin and death!
The Anointed One, Beloved of the Father, who has been exalted above all others! 
How inaccurate the world’s perception of Him was then! How different it will be when He comes again and startles the nations with the open revelation of Who He IS!
Now let’s review the Parable of the Landowner. Remember, we’re looking at perspective.                                  
The Parable of the Landowner
AFor the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them,  ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’  They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’  He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’  So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward,  ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’  And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.  And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying,  ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’  But he answered one of them and said,  ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  ‘Take what is yours and go your way.  I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few are chosen.
How did those who came first view those who came last?
Unworthy of a day’s wage. (Salvation)
How did they see themselves?
Worthy of more than what they’d agreed to. (Works Salvation)
How did they see the Master?
Unfair for not recognizing their works, they even thought He was wicked!
What did the Master see in those who came last?
Potential. Men in need of something worth doing with their lives.
How did He view the situation?         
As an opportunity to reveal His goodness to all of them.
How did He see those who had started working first?
Unfaithful to their agreement. False accusers.
Was He right? 
Of course! He is God. He corrected them, but He didn’t reject them.
Let’s review one more story about the effect of perspective. 
The Good Samaritan
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  Luke 10:25-37

What did the Priest and the Levite see?
A time drain. An expense. A danger to themselves, perhaps.
How did they respond because of their perceptions?
They ignored one in great needB essentially left him for dead.
What did the good Samaritan see?
Not a wounded Jew– but a jewel. (He saw his innate value.)
Not a burden– but a brother in need.
Not an inconvenience– but an eternal investment. 
How did his perception influence his behavior? 
He did what was right!  
Now let’s bring this thing home. When you look at yourself what do you see?
What talents and abilities are you neglecting because you don’t believe in yourself?
What opportunities are you stifling because you just can’t see them working out?
What relationships are you neglecting or avoiding or destroying because of doubts and fears?
When you look at others what do you see?
 Problems or promises?
 Foes of friends?
 Mortals or Immortals?
When you look at God what do you see?
Someone Fearsome or Awesome?
Someone Punitive or Loving?
A Judge or a Father?
Whatever your present viewpoint, it can be altered and enhanced through the Word and by the Spirit of God.  Whatever your present need, Jesus wants to meet it.

The Lord spoke to me a few years ago and said, “No longer say you can’t do what I say you can do.” Those words changed my perspective and my behavior. God is no respecter of persons. He wants you to know this too. If you will listen and respond to His voice it will change you. Allow Him to change your perspective and He will change your life!   
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About Cherel

I love to read. I also enjoy journaling, writing poetry, sharing faith and encouragement with others, and blogging! Hope you are blessed by my site.
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Poetry, Psychology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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