A Matter of Perspective

During our first church service of 2015, our pastor was praying – he tends to do that a lot, of which I’m glad. As he prayed for those who had a rough year, I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s me. It was pretty tough.” Then I stopped. The entire year of 2014 wasn’t bad – just the last two months. Why would I classify the entire year solely based on the events at the end of the year? This was a question that sent me on an introspection journey, which I decided to share with you.

Without boring you with the week-to-week details of November and December 2014, here is a brief rundown. During the course of thirty days I traveled over 3100 miles through 7 states for 44 hours – all on the road. It started with a trip to southern Georgia to be with my mom when she took her last breath, followed by her funeral in Illinois, ending with Pennsylvania for a pastor’s conference (fortunately I didn’t have to drive on that last trip). This all ended with getting sick right after Christmas with a cold, bronchitis, and ear infections. Even though January is almost over, I am still trying to get rid of some of that gunk.

What I realized was this: I cannot allow the first ten months of 2014 to be overshadowed by one incident. Yes, it was a major event, and I’m not down playing it or the affect it has had on me. (I feel sorry for those who had to be around me for the month of December.) It’s just not accurate to define an entire year as “bad” or “good” based on one incident. I’m sure most of 2014 was good. In fact, thinking back through the year there were some great things that happened.

My mom & I on a scenic train ride summer of 2013. We shared a love of trains!

My mom & I on a scenic train ride summer of 2013. We shared a love of trains!

Sure, there were other things I went through this past year that took their toll on my psyche. But there were also just as many good things that happened. I’m reminded of the illustration our pastor shares frequently. Life is like a set of railroad tracks. One rail is bumpy while, at the same time, the other is smooth. Have you ever been on a train ride? I’ve been on several, and I’ve never experienced one that was smooth as silk. In a nutshell, life is bumpy, even when amazing things are happening. I think too many times we immediately go to the negative and forget the positive. Me included.

Thinking back to when my dad died, I never claimed it was a tough year. I’ve always worded it like this, “The year 1999 had a rough start.” And it was. He had a massive heart attack on my living room floor just three weeks after I had knee surgery, and he died ten days later. The thing is, I never classified 1999 as a bad year, even though it started that way. So I shouldn’t label 2014 as a bad year just because it ended that way.

It’s all about perspective. It’s all about how we view the events, the victories, and the defeats that happen throughout the year. When you define 2015 at the end of December, which perspective will you choose to see?