The Big Picture: Finding Perspective When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned
A few months ago, I went strawberry picking with one of my dearest friends and the godmother of my boys. We had a great time seeking out the biggest and brightest berries, and watching Radar lug around the heavy baskets. (Bruiser sat quietly in his stroller for the majority of the time, but wasn’t moving around enough to join in on the action yet.) As a busy working mom, it’s always nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, and relax in the outdoors. Apparently we should do it more often, because valuable life lessons can be learned and reiterated as we see the big picture of which we are a part.
We spent about an hour and a half on one row, and kept going back over and over the bushes to find strawberries that we had missed. My friend kept looking over at the next row and pointing out how much brighter and more abundant the berries were over there. It was a pretty obvious difference from what we were seeing on our row, and I couldn’t deny that. We planned to hit that row when we finished the one we were on, but we kept getting so excited about the berries on the next row that we weren’t taking the time to search our own row very well.
If you’ve ever been berry picking, you know how it goes: you hunch over or stoop down and scoot from one bush to the next. You practically feel like a pretzel by the time you’re finished. And it’s tough to see the berries that are on your current bush because you are in such close quarters with it. Occasionally you glance up for a minute, and you can see the berries a bit further away, and it gives you enough motivation to continue picking!
Well, after about half an hour, my back had HAD it, so I stood up to stretch for a few minutes. That’s when it hit me – while standing back a bit from the bushes, I could see tons of gorgeous berries that we had completely missed on our own row! How did we not see them when they were right in front of us? Perhaps they were hiding behind the leaves, or our eyes were getting blurred. Whatever the reason, we had trouble seeing the things that were right in our face until we stepped back and saw the big picture. Wow. What a God-moment!
I had been going through a really tough time for several months when we went on that berry picking adventure, and through my trials I kept thinking, “Why, Lord? I don’t see anything good in this situation, so why do I have to sit here and suffer through it?” Maybe because there WAS good. Perhaps the Lord had something beautiful sitting right in front of my face, and I couldn’t see it because I was too busy looking at everyone else’s apparently perfect lives. If I could have taken a step back and seen my life through God’s eyes, I would have seen the big picture. I would have seen all those bright, beautiful berries right there on my own row that seemed to be so empty and wanting.
There are times in our lives when we feel like God is being unfair to us. We don’t like the situation we’re in. Why do I have to struggle so much? Why is my kid sick? Why can’t I just get that dream job? Why isn’t my marriage going the way I dreamed it would? Why did I have to lose something or someone so dear? Why can’t my life look like hers??? When life doesn’t go as planned, we need to adjust our perspective.
You know the old saying about the grass being greener on the other side…we I joked about the berries being brighter on the next row! And the same principle applies to our lives. The grass really isn’t greener, nor the berries brighter…nor THAT lady’s life any better. We all have our fair share of trials and pain. During those times, we must remember that there is a bigger picture. No, we cannot take a step back from our own life to see that picture. We must trust in the Lord during those times, knowing that He sees the big picture – He painted the big picture Himself, you know – and that He has good plans for us. He will carry us through each and every hard time that we face.
If I’m being honest, I would have to say that now I can see the reason for almost every trial I have faced in my life. Once I was through each one, I could look back and say, “Ohhhhh…THAT is what You had planned! It makes sense now! If I had only seen the big picture back then!” So when you face something painful, remember that your Creator has the whole beautiful painting laid out before Him. Use those times to draw close to Him until He has brought you through the trial. Then you will see the big picture as well, and you will be amazed at how much your God loves you, and how He uses the most painful things in our lives to bring the greatest growth and beauty!
There is a wonderful song that I play over and over whenever I am faced with a hard time, to remind myself that there is a bigger picture. My favorite line is, “And though I can’t understand why this happened, I know that I will when I look back some day, and see how You’ve brought beauty from ashes, and made me as gold purified through these flames*.” WOW. I just got goosebumps typing that! Say it out loud. It is SO powerful. Write that down and read it when you start to have a “why” moment. We can’t always see the good that is right in front of us, especially during hard times. But the Lord has good plans for you and still sees the big picture of the beautiful life that he painted for you. Trust in Him and see what beauty lies ahead.
*Section taken from “Beauty from Pain” by Barlow Girl