Why you should widen your perspective (and how)

“There are more things in heaven and earth… than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet

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We live in a big world. It’s 40 thousand kilometres wide, with 7.5 billion people. There are 2 thousand types of jellyfish and 3 thousand varieties of pears.

How often do you stop to ponder the universe?

If you are a Watcher or a Caregiver, sometimes the world does not feel that big. Our hours and thoughts are occupied with one person. Our daily routines may not take us particularly ‘far afield’. Life, which in reality is BIG, can feel (and be!) very small.

Oh no, you may protest. I don’t live in a bubble! I watch TV. I listen to the radio. I get the news on my phone.

That’s good… but it’s not the same as genuinely experiencing the world first-hand, is it? Media such as TVs, newspapers etc. can give us a sense of the “busyness” of the world, or the “angst” of the world – but do they really help us understand the “bigness” of the universe?

I don’t have time, you may counter. “Experiencing the world” (whatever that means) is a luxury I can’t afford. That’s for other more fortunate people.

Is it?… I think God has given us a big world for a reason. Small things and quiet lives are good. They are satisfying and God-honouring and people-loving – but they are part of a bigger world.

3 reasons you should take the time to widen your perspective of the world

Widening your perspective reminds you of God’s bigger plan.

God is a God who works in time and space. He works through individual lives against a backdrop of a cosmos with a billion stars. He is a God who has big plans woven out of tiny strands – our life, our Loved One’s life, are part of a huge plan which began before creation. This is encouraging. Our life is part of a bigger picture.

Widening your perspective reminds you of your own feebleness

There’s nothing like staring at the stars to remind yourself how small you are. Only when we view the world as it really is can we view ourselves accurately. We are not ‘movers-and-shakers’. We are not heroes or giants. Even Martin Luther King Jr. was simply a human with a limited life span, who existed for a time and then was gone. This is refreshing. It’s not up to us – because it can’t be.

Widening your perspective reminds you of your direction

The world around us is constantly changing. Seasons come and go. Nations rise and fall. Your own life might be repetitive, but the world is driving forward. Your Loved One’s life may be faltering, but the universe is gaining momentum.

Time passes. One day Christ is coming back. We are hurtling towards eternity with ever-increasing speed. This is challenging. How you live your life matters, your choices and your actions are important.

When we stop and ponder the universe, our every day, ‘boring’ moments gain significance. This is not because the universe itself is immensely special (although it is), but because it is God’s universe. None of the points above would be encouraging or constructive if this were not our Father’s world.

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How do we widen our perspective?

As nice as it would be to spend the evening staring at the stars or take four months off to travel around the Hebrides, those things are just not possible for a lot of us. Our lives are too full, it costs too much, we are too tired, we feel guilty because our Loved One can’t leave the house so why should we?

I think we owe it to God to carve time out of our day or week or month to widen our perspective. This is because it’s not just our understanding of the universe we are broadening, but our understanding of its Creator.

I also think we owe it to our Loved One. When we are encouraged, challenged and refreshed in the ways mentioned above, we are equipped to love better. Not only can we find renewed energy and purpose, but we are able to share what we’ve learned, encouraging, challenging and refreshing others.

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Some practical tips:

(1) Look at the stars

When you park your car at night, or while you’re bringing the rubbish out, take 30 seconds to tilt back your head and stare up at the stars. Can you see any constellations? Can you see any at all? Where is the moon? What phase is it in? What shade is it?

“We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character… The stars, can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”

– Dr Who, ‘Vincent and the Doctor’

(2) Talk to someone different

Go out of your way to talk to someone of a different culture or background. If they’re a friend, ask them what their home-town smells like. What is one thing they miss and one thing they don’t? If they’re the check-out guy, simply chat and observe.

Do they use different body language to what you’re used to? Is their word order different, their accent? What are they emphasising, what are they not? Notice and delight in the differences and similarities. Thank God for different cultures and people different to you.

(3) Talk about someone different

Ask a friend to tell you something you don’t know about them. Take the time to have a conversation which isn’t simply a recount of weekend activities or a list of complaints. Choose to be interested in a topic you wouldn’t normally. Don’t change the conversation to something you’d prefer but take the time to listen and ask (yourself or them) what it is they treasure, and what you can learn from them.

(4) Travel

Travel is an obvious one, and not always simple. It is possible to travel 300 km away and not widen your perspective one centimetre. I won’t delve into this topic, except to say that when and if you go – make sure you go WITH God. While travel is not a way to “find” God, it’s a very easy way to “leave” Him behind.

Of course there’s many more ways. The world, as they say, is your oyster. Except I’ve never liked that imagery – who wants to be shut up in a giant clam? The universe is huge my friends, and we when we take the time to recognise its immensity, we will be better equipped to live out our small lives in huge ways.

// do you ever feel like a ‘wide perspective’ is a luxury you can’t afford? How as this post challenged your thinking?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you, friend.