Perspective On Perspective

001 (2)“Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see Him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (CEV) 

I’d like to think that I’m a glass-half-full person but there are times when I see the glass as half empty.  One thing I’m absolutely certain of: I don’t see things the way that God sees them.  I often lose perspective when my faith is tested and stretched. It’s interesting how life can shape and mold your perspective but it is also true that your perspective can shape and mold your life.

I have just passed a milestone on my life-journey and it has made me quite contemplative.  My youngest daughter, Emily just graduated from high school and we had a bunch of family and friends in for the festivities.  It was a wonderful time of celebration and crazy family fun and though it was a bit hectic at times, I enjoyed every minute. We loved celebrating our sweet Emily!

We had been preparing for the celebration for weeks and as I sorted through hundreds of old pictures in the process of making a compilation DVD and her memory board to display at her graduation party, I was reminded of God’s graciousness and healing power demonstrated by her life. It was a perspective that took me by surprise in the midst of all the busyness, but it was so precious and such a testimony of God’s goodness, I wanted to share it with Emily.

I had the opportunity to pick her up and take her out to lunch on her very last day of high school.  I felt compelled to share with her all that God had been laying on my heart in the last few weeks and I’ll cherish those shared moments always. As I began my explanation I somewhat fumblingly told her that I would probably cry my way through it, but assured her that they were happy tears and that God had touched my heart deeply in the remembering.  That’s all it took for her eyes to fill and I’m sure we were a puzzling sight sitting there eating our lunch at Five Guys Hamburgers in tears.  I began by conveying how she had exceeded all my expectations and hopes for what a daughter could be. I told her all the things that I appreciated about her: her heart for God and tenderness for others, her ability to work hard to achieve the grades she desired, her sense of humor and her ability to laugh at herself and to see the humor in a situation, even if it was an uncomfortable or painful moment.  I expressed how much I admired her for her determination to rise above the challenge of moving away from all her friends and everything familiar right before she began her junior year in high school.  I thanked her for being willing to share so much of her life with me and for allowing me to speak into her very teachable heart.  I was overflowing, figuratively and literally! But then I ventured even deeper; I wanted her to know how she has been an instrument that God has used to display His incredible goodness and His capacity to bring healing to hearts wounded by grief and brokenness.  I went on to reiterate something she had heard before about her older sister Jessica, who died at age 6, a full four years before Emily was born.  I have always stressed that no one could ever replace Jessica and I worked very hard to try to make sure Emily knew that we had always wanted three children and that she wasn’t being compared to Jessica, or expected to fill her older sister’s shoes. But I also explained that after having a relationship with a daughter, when Jessica died I not only grieved the loss of Jessica as a person, but I also grieved the loss of a relationship with a daughter.  It made the hole in my heart even that much more gaping and seemingly impossible to fill.  Emily had heard me tell the story of the extensive surgery I’d undergone after Jessica died, in order to be able to have another child even though some questioned the advisability of that decision because of my health. I had told her how I cried when I found out I was pregnant with her and how delighted we all were when she was born a healthy, red-haired, blue-eyed, beautiful baby. She brought such joy and healing to our family.

I was able to share with her at lunch that day, on her final day of high school, how she was the fulfillment of everything I thought I would never be able to experience when Jessica died in my arms.  When a child dies, so do all your dreams of being able to share those firsts: first days of school, first dance, first date, and on and on.  I even remember Larry and I specifically grieving over the fact that we’d never see Jessica graduate from high school along with the hundreds of other things we’d miss.  As I gathered all the pictures for Emily’s graduation party, God walked me through all the ways He had allowed me to experience with Emily everything I thought I would miss out on, and so much more. I saw many precious pictures of Emily with my mother, who had grieved the loss of her very first granddaughter, Jessica, but who also played a major role in helping me carry Emily to full term. Because I had to be off my feet for the final 3 months of my pregnancy, my mom stayed with us, taking excellent care of Phil, Larry and me. What an incredible tribute to her when Emily was born with red hair and big blue eyes, looking nothing like Jessica but the spitting image of my mom. It was such a delight to have my mom there for Emily’s graduation week, knowing the joy and healing my mom experienced because Emily’s life.

As I looked at so many goofy and touching photos of Phil and Emily together, God also reminded me that He had healed and restored Phillip’s heart when He brought Emily into our family.  Phillip’s heartbreaking question when we brought Emily home from the hospital after her birth, “Is she gonna die too?” was long forgotten over the years as he assumed the role of big brother and shared a special relationship with his little sister. God used Emily to grow Phillip’s faith and his trust in his Heavenly Father.

Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas and Grandpas, all who had deeply grieved Jessica’s death, were gathered on June 9th as we celebrated Emily’s graduation and I was reminded once again of God’s infinite goodness. I pray that Emily’s life will continue to be a testimony of that goodness, “a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” and a reminder of His desire to give us “beauty for ashes”.  I pray that she lives with the reality that she is her own person with her own unique purpose. She is a joy and sparkle to all who are blessed to know her.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”  Isaiah 61:3 NIV

I will never understand the ways of God.  Many times I struggle, doubt and grieve.  But I have “seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” and will continue to trust and believe in the midst of my clouded perspective. I never want to lose the ability to see what I have because I’m so focused on what I’ve lost. I can make a deliberate choice to focus on the glass as half full while realizing that it is also half empty.  It will only be when I get to heaven for that “Ultimate Celebration” that I will have perfect perspective and truly see things clearly but I’m so thankful that God gives us glimpses of His incredible goodness here on earth.

“Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see Him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (CEV)

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

For Your Splendor by Christy Nockles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC_QCKCuAM8

5 thoughts on “Perspective On Perspective

  1. Tears flowed as I read the beautiful tribute to all three of your precious children. What a privilege it has been to “do life” with all of you. I love you all So much!

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  2. This was simply beautiful. What a perfect testament this is of your love for your children and family. Emily is such an amazing young lady, and i cant wait to see how God will continue to use her in the years to come. I am simply amazed at the way Christ speaks through you and continues to work in all of our lives. I am so blessed to call you my friend. Love you!

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  3. Beautifully written, a lovely account of the awareness God brought to you as He worked out such a magnificent story of healing, unexpected and overflowing blessing, and great joy in the morning!

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