Trying to see yourself as God does offers refreshing shift in perspective
As the temperature drops, it is challenging to wear both a mask and glasses. Stepping into a warm building, my vision is instantly obscured by a foggy film. Fearing I will misjudge my steps and trip, I grab a crumpled Kleenex to wipe off the icy fog. I'm frustrated to discover that a trail of lint and dirt has smeared across the lenses. Now I've made things worse. I want to see clearly, but with all my efforts, all I've managed to do is further distort my perspective.
In these times of loss and consequent change, it can be a real chore to get a clear view. It is natural to undertake a search for meaning. Self-examination and questions about God are front of mind. My thought life and my self-talk can tie me up in endless knots. I try in vain to get a clear point of reference.
Flipping this on its head, I propose it is worthwhile to ask what God's perspective is about you. This is an incredible anchor-point when I feel bruised, aimless and worn out. I take my thoughts captive and discover what God thinks of me. It's a refreshing surprise!
When I feel abandoned, God says I am chosen. Going through pain in loss, I can feel all alone — abandoned. God seems a no-show; I think I'm not important enough. My old lenses tell me God is not interested in me, but God says that He chose me before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Before He formed me in the womb, He knew me (Psalms 139:16). He's right there with me. He won't let me down; He won't leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6). My life circumstances are not accurate indicators of God being absent or indifferent. If I am chosen by God, then I can have the confidence that He is absolutely more than interested in me. I am chosen.
When I feel useless, God says I have purpose. Going through loss can leave me thinking that I am not good enough. I don't have value or purpose. My scratched lens tells me that God doesn't care about me. God says that His plans for me involve a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)! My mind often has to inform my heart of this fact. This enables me not to waste my pain. I have purpose.
When I feel shame, God says I am loved. Reeling after loss can leave me thinking I'm an utter mess! I feel bogged down with regrets. I get caught on the treadmill of should'ves, could'ves and would'ves. My fogged up lenses cause me to believe God can't help me. God says that He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). This is the good news that I need to hear; it grips me and lifts me up out of the hole I'm in. My current circumstances might cause me to feel like it's the end of my life story. However, the reality is, it's only the end of one chapter. I am loved.
When I feel rejected, God says I am accepted. After loss, I can end up feeling that I'm in too deep, and there is no way out. If I've felt cumulatively abandoned, useless
and shamed, my smudged lenses tell me that God doesn't understand the complexities of my life. However, God says we are accepted unconditionally. Whoever comes to Him, He will not cast out (John 6:37). Through Jesus, God reached down to us, and He identifies with our human struggles — our suffering. I am accepted.
When I feel guilt, God says I am forgiven. When experiencing grief emotions, it can leave me feeling that I'm in this terrible place of sorrow because I'm a bad person. My blackened lenses tell me that God is punishing me. It is a false notion that God is a cosmic “Thor,”
poised to smite us with a sledgehammer every time we mess up. God says that while we were unable to help ourselves — stuck in our sins and our imperfection — Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). His death and resurrection make the way for Him to offer me the gift of forgiveness. As I choose to accept His gift, I am forgiven.
Rather than staying stuck in pain, God wants to give our lives traction. You are chosen by God. You have a purpose that only you can fulfil in this life. You are accepted. You are loved, no matter what. God is not mad at you — He's mad about you! He offers His gift
Is your vision a blur? Perhaps you need a new set of lenses to see yourself as God sees you. When you see clearly, you can have hope. This is the latest instalment in a series on grief by writer Shauna Caldwell, who lost her twin sons in an accident in 2016. Her pieces are appearing on the Faith page of the Calgary Herald on the last Saturday of the month; the last instalment will be on Nov. 28.
To read a Halloween-themed article from Caldwell, go to www.evanjordan.ca. Caldwell also offers a note of thanks to Neil Parker for his assistance with this series.