Perspective… Why Is It So Hard To Find?

[I apologize up front for the length of this post.  I hope that you will find it worth your time if you choose to read it.]

Those that know me know I am an avid fan of The University of Alabama football team.  I have been a fan of the Crimson Tide my entire life.  My Dad is a fan and it was just how it was in my house.  When I was a kid, Alabama did not play on television pretty much every week like now.  Before we had cable, we were only able to watch the three major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC).  That meant we only got one, maybe two, games a week on television.  The games came from around the country since they were nationally televised games.  As a result, Alabama games were only aired a couple of times a year.  That did not matter in my house.  We would listen to every game on the radio.  It did not matter if we were working in the yard or were out and about in the car.  The football game was on the radio.  I learned to yell at the radio and television from my Dad and I still do it to this day.  Somehow, I am convinced they can hear me.  As you can see, it is very easy for me to lose perspective when it comes to Alabama football.  As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that the players cannot hear me yell at the radio or television.  In fact, nothing I do actually impacts the outcome of the game.  Even though I would like to think otherwise, I know those players do not even know who I am.  So why do I get so worked up?  I think it is just in my blood.  Much like Fullback Tommy Lewis when he came off the bench to tackle Rice running back Dicky Moegle during the 1954 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, I may just be “so full of Alabama.”  After all, I am also an alum so I feel like I am entitled to feel that way.

Now that I have set the stage for my love of Alabama football, I want to share something I noticed last night while watching the Oklahoma Sooners beat my Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  Watching Facebook, my Alabama friends were on an emotional rollercoaster.  A large number of my Auburn friends were posting things that I found to be tasteless and classless.  In the interest of full disclosure, a lot of my Auburn friends were also posting things in support of Alabama.  Of course, those that were not were adding to the stress I was feeling as the game wore on and it was not going in Alabama’s favor.  When the game was over, I was watching the post-game celebration where Coach Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma football team were  celebrating their hard-earned and well-deserved victory.  While watching, it hit me that many of my Alabama friends (myself included) place way too much importance on a game played by 18-22 year olds where we have no real impact in the outcome.  Why do we let it affect us so much?  It made me think about how easily we can lose perspective, especially when what we are watching affects us emotionally.

People are rarely rational and emotional at the same time.  I watched some of the post-game press conferences with the players and coaches.  Obviously, the Oklahoma players were excited and giddy.  They deserved to be.  On the Alabama side, it was clear that the players were very disappointed and even somewhat despondent.  That too is understandable, especially for those key players that were playing their last game for Alabama.  No one wants to end their career on a loss.  Quarterback AJ McCarron was quick to take full responsibility for the loss.  Wide receiver Kevin Norwood was just as quick to let AJ know it was not all on him.  You could tell that, although they were full of disappointment, they seemed to have the right perspective that they were playing a game.  It made me think about a feature that ESPN aired before the game about a relationship AJ McCarron developed with AJ Starr, a fellow student with cerebral palsy.  You can watch the feature here and I promise you will not regret it.  This is just one of many examples of AJ McCarron using his standing as the Alabama quarterback to brighten someone else’s day.  Today someone shared the following picture on Facebook from after the game:

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Yes, that is AJ McCarron consoling AJ Starr after the game.  McCarron could have gone off to feel sorry for himself.  Instead, he took time for Starr.  How many of us would do that?  If you or I were aching after a heartbreaking loss, would we do that?  I would hope I would, but I honestly do not know.

I had more reminders last night and today about perspective.  Obviously, God could tell I needed an attitude adjustment and He kept giving me examples to review until it finally began to sink in.  First, I saw another outstanding video that is like hundreds I have seen before.  However, I never get tired of seeing videos like this one.  Do you think this 8th grade boy cares one bit about who won a football game while his dad was in Afghanistan.  I feel safe saying that his perspective is much different from most, especially when he got to see his dad in that surprise setting.

The next item that came across my path was something credited to comedian George Carlin shortly after his wife passed away.  I think it is worth sharing here:

SOMETHING TO PONDER by George Carlin
George Carlin’s wife died early in 2008 and George followed her, dying in July 2008. It is ironic George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent and so very appropriate. An observation by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.
There is a lot of good advice in that piece.  I do not know where it came from, but I suspect from his heart.  My guess is that losing his wife caused a change of perspective.
It is my belief that the things that happen in our life that are outside “our plan” have the best chance of helping us find the right perspective, if we let it.  I received an email this morning with a story that really hit me square in the face.  It reminded me that my plans are not always what is best for me.  You see, I do not have the same omniscient perspective that God has.  My perspective is severely lacking in many, many ways.  It is only when I allow God to use me how He wants to use me that I will find true fulfillment and find the right perspective.  I will end this lengthy post with the story of three trees.  I hope it speaks to you the way it spoke to me this morning.
THREE TREES
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, ‘Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.’
Then the second tree said, ‘Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.’
Finally the third tree said, ‘I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill, look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.’
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, ‘This looks like a strong tree. I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,’ and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsmen said, ‘This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.’ The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, ‘I don’t need anything special from my tree, I’ll take this one,’ and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.
The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man and he stood and said, ‘Peace’ and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of the hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in him, God will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.
We don’t always know what God’s plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.
Please share this story… so God may inspire more people on the way. May your day be blessed and until we meet again, may God cradle you in the palm of His Hand.
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