The View From On Top

The View From On Top

A few months ago, I heard a preacher share a story about how when he was a little boy he’d sit under the table where his mother would be working on her embroidery. He’d sit there and watch as she worked and all he could see was a mess of strings. From his perspective there was only chaos.

His mother’s perspective was much different because she had the view from on top. Where she sat, she saw a beautiful picture unfolding. Not chaos, but something beautiful.

It’s all about perspective.

If you read my previous post you already know perspective has been something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately.

You see, I’m realizing my view isn’t the complete picture. It’s a very limited one-sided view.

Then, to confirm this even further, one day as I’m scrolling through my FaceBook feed I see this picture:

crown embroidery

Corrie ten Boom lived in the Netherlands during World War II. She, along with her family, helped many Jews escape the Holocaust– saving many lives while endangering their own. The Nazis did eventually find out about the Ten Booms and imprisoned them.

Corrie was imprisoned for 10 months when she was released. According to Corrie, she later learned her release was a clerical error. Her response to that was, “God does not have problems — only plans.”*

In the picture above, you’ll notice a piece of embroidery that Corrie would take with her when she would share her story with audiences. She would hold up the side which showed the tangled mess of threads and share how that was our perspective. We can pray for things and ask God to move in certain ways, but sometimes (many times) things don’t turn out the way we hoped and prayed they would.

And yet, when we turn the embroidery over, we see a clear picture. All the while, God had been acting and working. We just couldn’t see it clearly from our view. What we need is His view from on top.

All of my life, I’ve been seeing things from the wrong side. I’ve seen the chaos and wondered what God could possibly be doing. I question and interrogate Him in a search for answers. I point to the mess and cry, “Look at this, God! How could you let this happen?!”

There have been things that have happened to me that have been outside my control. I’ve walked through some dark valleys and I’m not here to make it seem like all of a sudden I see good in any of it. I still hurt. And I still question. There are nights I stand in my shower weeping because I just don’t get it.

And that’s just it. I don’t think I’ll ever really get it. As much as I pray to see things like God sees them, my view is still limited. All I can do is learn to trust the Artist more. So, that’s what I’m doing.

Trusting that His view on top is better than anything I can see at the moment and that this mess is actually being woven into a beautiful masterpiece.

 

*wikipedia.com (You can also read more of Corrie’s story in “The Hiding Place”)

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Restored Wastelands

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If you haven’t noticed, or if you don’t have one of those obnoxious friends on FB who LOVES counting down to the next big event, the end of 2014 is coming up fast. Stores are stocked with all the fixins for holiday cooking and baking. Christmas music is being played in the mall, which enrages me. Can’t we get through Thanksgiving first?! But I digress.

In the next month and a half, I will enjoy my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving), turn 31, open Christmas presents (which better include that bearded lumberjack I asked for!) and welcome in 2015. That’s a busy 6 weeks, but all the hustle and bustle won’t distract me from the reality that another year is coming to a close.

I have a hard time with endings. I go through closing credit mourning at the end of every movie. I leave friends houses unannounced so I don’t have to say goodbye. I’ve avoided “Going Away” parties and have contemplated skipping funerals a time or two. I’ve cried at all three of my graduations and at all three of my siblings weddings. Not because I wasn’t happy, but because I knew things would never be like they were.

Thoughts of a new year in the not too distant future, leave me with the same feelings. Things will never be the same. Looking back, I’m disappointed with things I didn’t accomplish and how I will be one year older and still not quite where I’d like to be in life.

Discussing this past year with a dear friend, he mentioned how when he looks back over the past few months all he sees is burning fields and villages. For him, it’s been a year of heartache, devastation, pain and destruction. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a relationship or the loss of a dream. Maybe you received some difficult news from the doctor or can’t seem to get your head above water financially.

While talking to my friend, I was reminded of the fields by my house. This year, they were burned– the ground charred and black. “What good can come out of this?” you wonder. Controlled burns help farmers get rid of any left over crop debris, as well as kill weeds and makes the ground ready for next year’s crop to grow. So, while most of us might see devastation, there is actually a good plan in the works.

It’s not to say that everything that happened *was* good. It doesn’t dismiss the pain or belittle your hurts. What it does mean is that what you see as an end– God sees as a beginning. There may be burned down fields and houses, but that is the perfect opportunity for God to come in and start over. Lay a new foundation and build something beautiful.

Reading the story of Joseph (ya, the guy with the colorful coat), only confirms this Truth. This guy didn’t just have one bad year, but years marked with what looked like wreckage. His brothers sold him into slavery, he was wrongly accused of a crime, imprisoned and seemingly forgotten. When he was later reunited with his brothers, now a man of stature and authority, he told them, “What you meant for evil, God meant it for good.” (Gen. 50:20)

There’s some perspective for you.

Instead of mourning over the end of one chapter, let’s celebrate the beginning of something wonderful and full of possibilities. Be encouraged that where you may see destruction and waste, God can make something beautiful from it.

 

“All this earth. Could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come up from this ground at all? You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, You make make beautiful things out of us.” ~Gungor “Beautiful Things”

Why I Won’t Settle

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I saw another relationship change on FB this morning. Another friend making it official that they were indeed “off-the-market” by linking their name with another’s on social media.

“Welp. I guess I will be breaking into my chocolate drawer before lunch again today,” I thought.

The stages of grief immediately taking effect.

The denial: This is some kind of internet prank to get everyone up in arms. People shouldn’t play those types of pranks. I didn’t even know they were talking?! No, I don’t believe it. I check the friends profile countless times throughout the day to see if anything has changed or if they decided to confess it was all just a joke. No such luck.

The anger: WHY NOT ME?! It’s usually about this time that I text my BFF. I let out this lengthy rant about how I’m pretty freakin’ amazing and yet I’m still single. I tell her it doesn’t make sense– in all caps for more emphasis. Like a good friend, she always responds the same way, “I know! I don’t get it either.” At least someone agrees with me.

The bargaining: Maybe I should text so-and-so and give that relationship another go. Things really weren’t that bad….I mean, why did we even stop talking in the first place? It could work. Ya, totally. And then, as if Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect is in my head I hear, “Umm…better not.” I put my phone back down with a heavy sigh.

The depression: I mentioned I’m eating chocolate already, right? There’s a small mound of chocolate wrappers sitting next to me as a monument to my sadness. Chocolate understands.

And then, the acceptance: Ok, I’m happy for them. Really. Good for them. They deserve to be happy. I’m glad they found one another.

Within the acceptance phase, I find a resolution building inside of me. I remind myself there have been opportunities for me to date. Each of them good guys in their own rights– kind, generous, encouraging. But I chose not to date them and it always boiled down to the same reason. Though they were good men, they weren’t the greatest.

I’m not talking about perfection or unattainable expectations. I’m NOT talking about Prince Charming. I’m talking about the man who will be the complementary color to my life. We won’t be the same (Can I get a “Hallelujer”?), but he’ll add to my life like I’ll add to his. We’ll be partners in the adventure– two imperfect people working on loving each other through the crazy and the mundane.

Like I said, I’ve been tempted to give in and settle. Oh, how I’ve wanted to–some days (and nights) the loneliness has been almost unbearable. I’ve gone stag to more than enough events for my liking. Or even worse yet, sitting around the table with my family. Each sibling with their spouse, my parents side by side and then single Holly.

The loneliness, the sadness, the grief cannot be reasons for me to fling myself into a relationship that isn’t a good fit because in the end it could end up leaving me even more lonely and sad. I’m not looking for more pain. I haven’t waited this long for just anyone that’ll do.

Waiting is hard. I’m impatient. I want to rush ahead on do things on my own and in my timing. I know my track record, though, and that’s what keeps me waiting. Everything I have done on my own and in my own strength has failed. Miserably. Yet, everything (yes, EVERYTHING) He has done for me and through me has prospered. There’s just no comparison and that gives me hope.

I may struggle with this single status, but I won’t settle.

What keeps (or has kept) you from settling? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know.