Its always a bit of a surprise to me the things that will give me a moment of jolting life-perspective.
Whenever we are almost "out of food" in the house, it amazes me the stuff I can actually come up with to eat or feed the kids. I decided about a month ago that the term "out of food" shouldn't be spoken in my house anymore, because the truth is closer to "there's nothing easy" or "there's nothing I like to eat in this house." My outlook on the whole matter has shifted.
Along those same lines, the kids aren't allowed to tell me that they are "starving." Why? Because I've seen people in China who are ACTUALLY starving, and my children have no business saying that they are feeling that way. It's a perspective that they haven't had a chance to gain yet, but someday they will, and then they will understand why I speak so forcefully when they use that word.
I feel thin or...less thin...depending on the way I look at myself in the mirror. It's all about the angle. (although, every mirror has a different perspective of its own, I truly believe. The one in my bedroom tells me on a regular basis that I need to work out a lot more...so I quit asking it for its opinion. I walk down the hall to the the mirror in my boys' room now. It has nicer things to say. I also know of a couple mirrors (one at a friend's house and one at a church in Indiana) that tell me I am super trim and in shape. Their perspective is always welcome and often sought out!)
When I started packing for my 12 day trip to Italy and Switzerland, my perspective on what I actually NEED to have changed dramatically. We are planning to carry-on our luggage, so it doesn't get lost over the ocean somewhere. Which is a good idea, except it means I have to keep my liquids down to a single quart bag.
Do you know how many liquid products I use on a daily basis?
It's more than a quart, I promise you that!
And so the whittling down began. And then the repacking...and more whittling...until finally I think I can stuff all my tiny liquid bottles into the bag allotted to me. However, I have no plans to make it through the whole trip without a stop at a CVS (of the Italian equivalent of one) because no matter how much I readjust my perspective on what I must have versus what I can live without...I gotta have face wash, and toothpastes, and probably sunscreen. And those are all things that didn't make the cut in my quart bag. (don't be horrified, please. The things that did make the cut are much more important...like perfume, and hair gel, and moisturizer.)
I've also discovered I can live with only 3 pairs of shoes, two bras, and 4 pairs of shorts/pants for 12 days.
My husband says I should take this new found perspective and apply it to my every day life.
I told him it took me a month, and three packing parties with friends, to get to this point, and he better just be grateful he wasn't carting 20 bags all over Rome, and to stop pressuring me to downsize my whole life!
The most sobering moment of perspective came when we sat down to create a will before traveling overseas without our children. Nothing will put your whole life into its tiny magnified window of clarity like assigning a guardian for your kids and allocating assets to them.
It made me sick to my stomach.
When the kids found out we were doing it, it made them cry.
I told them, while they were sniffling and I was trying not to, that creating a document that specified what to do in the event of our deaths did NOT mean anything bad was going to happen while we were on our trip. It just meant we were protecting them from every possibility that life had to offer.
Faith cried harder.
I pulled her close. "It's okay, honey. Don't be scared. Daddy and I aren't going to die. We will be back before you know it and everything will go on just as always."
She wrapped her arms around me and held tightly.
And I knew that this wasn't only about her parents leaving for 12 days. And it wasn't only about us creating a will.
It was about her perspective, and how it has shifted, and how it will never be the same again.
She remembers hugging her Aunt Joy, and how Joy said many of the same words. "It'll go by so fast. I will see you before you know it. Be good while I'm gone. I love you. God will take care of me, don't worry about anything!"
And Joy never came back.
And our perspectives, and our lives, have shifted.
In the weeks following my sister's death, my dad told me at least a hundred times that he loved me and was proud of me. And every time he said the words, I knew he was thinking about all the chances he would never again have to tell Joy those same things. His perspective shifted, and he changed.
We all have.
Just like I never want to hear my kids use the word "starving," I also cry every time I hug a family member goodbye. Because, despite the words we say, and the confidence we possess that everything will go according to plan...that isn't always what happens.
And it'll change the way you look at everything, if you let it.
It makes every moment more cherished. Like a microscope zooming in on the beautiful seconds of your day, and taking a picture that doesn't make sense to anyone but you.
Eyelashes so long they brush my cheek when I kiss theirs.
Hearts racing because they are playing tag.
Wide open laughter.
Dirty feet pitter-pattering through the house.
His hand enveloping mine.
Thoughtful friends who touch base just to say they love me.
The breeze picking up and blowing through my hair.
Look at it all through new eyes today.
The simple. The ordinary. The chaotic.
What if it were your last moments? Would it change your perspective? Would you love more and correct less? Would you offer mercy even if it wasn't deserved? Would you embrace the chaos, if you knew it would be your last few seconds to have those little chaos-creating-monsters in your arms?
I think we all would, if only we had a moment to shift our focus.
Count the gifts. Even...no, especially, the ones that are so ordinary they don't seem like anything more than moments passing by.
They are all grace. They are all His hand in your life. They are all fleeting.
Say "I love you" to more people today than you did yesterday. Say it like it's the last chance you'll have. Because I want to KNOW that my children KNOW my heart toward them, and that they can carry it through their lives, even if I can't be with them.
Even if I get on a plane today and never come back, they will know that I love them, and am proud of them. And they will remember me telling them to serve God with their whole hearts for their whole lives, because I will always remember my daddy saying the same words to me.
Grace. Mercy. Love. All of it. Every moment. Every heartbeat.
I want to see it all from an eternal perspective today. I pray you will as well.