Husband & Wife Articles


 

How Does God See Me?

This simple question can put our lives in perspective

By Maryan Vander Woude

When I was in junior high school, my mother taught me the skill of artistic one-point and two-point perspective. This amazing technique transformed my penciled house, road or railroad tracks into three dimensional images right there on my flat paper!

In the beginning stages, I wasn’t very good at keeping the proper perspective in every line and fumbled a bit as I tried to learn it. On several occasions my drawing looked downright crooked. My mom could see the one or two lines that weren’t in the right perspective, and like magic, when they were adjusted, my picture looked like a thing of beauty that popped right off the page.

Dan and Maryan gather their gang together, with one on the way.

Dan and Maryan gather their gang together, with one on the way.

It’s occurred to me that a lot of life lessons reflect my junior high art session with my mom. We all come with warped views, prejudiced thoughts, or indignant self-righteousness. When we are humble enough to bring our thoughts to someone wiser and let them straighten a thought here, or change a point of view there – voila! Our crooked views and reactions transform into a thing of beauty. And all it took was humility and a change in perspective.

Other people in my family have taught me about perspective, and today I do what I call perspective double-checks. When I stop and reflect, I can tell when my viewpoint is getting skewed and out of focus. For example, when I think my house is too cramped for all the people who live in it, I can do something goofy like watch Little House on the Prairie for a square footage reality check and make a donation to the people of Haiti to remind me how spoiled I am. When I’m feeling bogged down by pregnancy aches and pains, I try to stop complaining and say a little prayer for my friends who would love to have more kids, or any kids, but can’t. Huffing and puffing up the stairs while carrying new life inside would be a joy to them, not the burden that I often feel. The same could be said for muddy walls, piles of laundry, and an inordinate amount of dirt on my floors. A perspective check keeps little complaints little.

Perspective can transform the larger things in your life, like your marriage. Twelve years ago my former coworkers threw me a bridal shower. Attached to their gifts was a recipe card containing advice for a good marriage. One, in particular, I keep right in the front of my recipe box to pull out for easy reminding. My wise co-worker wrote: “Every time we give more love than we think the other deserves (at the moment!), we are bringing Christ to the other, and we have a better chance of understanding what it’s like for Christ to love us.”

I remember musing how beautiful and profound her advice was. Of course, little did I know how hard this advice would be – until months later, after a little squabble over my husband failing to call me, I found myself thinking: “I am so right, and he is so wrong!” After stewing for a bit, I remembered the card. It took a little while or, to be honest, probably a long while, but in the end my friend’s sage advice put my misplaced pride back in perspective.

Comparing a forgotten phone call with the weight of my sins on the Cross makes petty little gripes appear to be what they truly are: petty. Couldn’t I be loving and understanding even though he forgot me for a whopping half an hour? On the occasions when I adjust my perspective, I can tell I’ve participated in a thing of beauty – divine beauty, even.

Lent is a great time to adjust the lines in our life that are out of perspective. The Church offers us 40 weeks to get back to God’s perspective: to see and love as he sees and loves, and to view things from a merciful and humble lens.

Maryan Vander Woude, wife to Dan and mom of seven children (one unborn), blogs about their adventures at A Lee in the Woudes.