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“How do you do it?”

Last week we introduced a new series on perspective in difficult times. In that article, we considered the age-old phrase “I cried because I didn’t have shoes, until I met someone who didn’t have feet.” This powerful saying conveys the power of perspective. And there is perhaps no greater time, that we need perspective, then when we are experiencing difficult times.

We often use the word “perspective” as if it were a commodity to be lost or gained. While, in reality, perspective isn’t something you can lose or gain, you always have it. What is typically meant is there is the very real possibility one can lose a balanced perspective when, we are so consumed with our own viewpoint, we limit ourselves in seeing the “bigger picture”.

A powerful tool, for keeping perspective, is that of gratitude. Gratitude very often helps to regain or maintain perspective and is best done on a daily basis.

Herein lies much of the power someone has in the midst of difficult times. Even as you find yourself in situations in which you feel your life is falling apart, even if you can’t see beyond your own perspective at the time, gently remind yourself,  “I may not have the best perspective right now”. This one little step is powerful. In difficult times, knowing how fragile and unbalanced your perspective can be, is important. Try your best to nurture a balanced perspective, especially during very difficult times.

A powerful tool, for keeping perspective, is that of gratitude. Gratitude very often helps to regain or maintain perspective and is best done on a daily basis.

In our story of the man who didn’t have shoes, it is the gratitude he found in simply having feet that changed his world. Something he had taken for granted, was now something that he found held the power in gaining a newly acquired perspective.

We all take so many simple things in life for granted, that we often, unintentionally,  skew our perspective. This unbalanced perspective sets us up for disappointments and discouragement.

“How do you do it?” I asked the man I had recently been introduced to, who who had lost all three of his children.

Now I don’t want to diminish the fact that some people reading this are going through extraordinarily difficult times right now. Perhaps infidelity in a marriage, or the death of a child, or a diagnosis that has turned your world upside down. For those individuals, what I am saying may appear to be too simplistic, perhaps out of touch, insensitive and ignorant of your pain. I can only say, I too have been in places of extraordinary adversity with the death of my husband when my children were very young, and a few years later with the death of my six-year-old, so please hear me out, for my heart is with you in a special way.

“How do you do it?” I asked the man I had recently been introduced to, who would go on to become a dear friend of mine, whom I admire immensely. This man had endured the loss of all three of his children within three years. Over the course of 36 months, he had to face the decision to remove each of his children from life support. He immediately knew what I meant with those five words.

People who have experienced great pain often “get” each other. He knew I meant “How do you go on, every day with that tremendous loss, with the incredible void in your life, with the overwhelming pain and grief? What gives you the power to get out of bed and face each day?”

Without hesitation, he answered, “Well you see, each morning I wake up and realize God has given me another day. Well at least the start of a day. I then decide if I am going to be happy or sad.  I always choose happy. I don’t always know what that day will bring, but I will make the choice to choose happiness over sadness.  I then ask myself what I am going to do to honor my three children today. Once I have asked myself those two questions, and answered them, I get out of bed. I do that every day. No one can take those choices away from me.”

He makes a daily choice to nurture his perspective. To look, with gratitude, that he has been given another day.

He makes a daily choice to nurture his perspective. To look, with gratitude, that he has been given another day. That he has a choice over how he will view his day, his attitude and his life, one morning at a time. Just as this friend chooses to be grateful for each day, and makes a choice on his perspective, this dear friend of mine also gives me perspective.

Does it invalidate or lessen my grief through my own journey, with a death of a child and spouse? Absolutely not, and please don’t take these topics we will be covering, on perspective during difficult times, as minimizing yours. Our discussion is simply to remind you of a powerful tool available to you, every day, which is especially powerful during difficult times…gratitude.

It is not a type of gratitude that says “Boy, I’m glad I’m not them”, no it isn’t that at all. It’s allowing yourself the opportunity to foster a perspective and gratitude not for what you don’t have, nor for that which you have lost, but for what you do have.

If you haven’t tried this simple exercise before, or it has been some time since you have, try this during the week ahead.

As a Christian I have always found the statement “There, but for the grace of God, go I” a troubling one. I hear it all the time, and it doesn’t sit right with my soul, as if God’s grace isn’t upon those who are experiencing whatever we are comparing ourselves to, by making that statement. God’s grace is given to us all, whether we see it or not. It isn’t something to be compared.

If you haven’t tried this simple exercise before, or it has been some time since you have, try this during the week ahead. Each day wake up and think to yourself  “God has given me another day, this side of eternity. Let me use today, and every day, as another day to find that which I am grateful for. During life’s daily troubles, and its most difficult of challenges, help me to see what I can be grateful for. God, please help me shape, and nurture, my perspective today.”

When you are stuck in traffic on your way to work, find gratitude in the fact you have a job. When you stand there listening to your child throwing a tantrum, remind yourself of the perspective you have that they don’t. Should you have so much pain you can’t find anything or anyone to “give” you perspective simply choose gratitude at the start of your day, reminding yourself throughout “God, help me to nurture my perspective today. Help me to find things, people, and circumstances, throughout my day, that I am grateful for having in my life…until I wake up tomorrow and I ask for your help again.”





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