When I finally gave in and got trained to use a cane, I learned more than just the mechanics.
The man who was training me ask about my coping skills. He used terms and asked about techniques I had learned to manage my limited vision. As he explained these skills, taught to the blind and visually impaired, I just looked at him a bit dumbfounded and surprised. Without being taught or shown, I had learned these skills out of sheer necessity! I use my hands to trace the tops of chairs, the sides of counter tops and walls, I count steps, and I sometimes tap things with my foot to get my bearings in a new space. And because my eyes have such a small view finder, due to my lack of peripheral vision, I often step back a bit when I’m trying to find something I have dropped on the floor. It can be right in front of me but I just can’t see it.
But when I take a step or two back, it somehow widens or broadens the surface of what I’m trying to see. I can’t really see better and the thing hasn’t changed in size but somehow I can see ‘more’.
Shifting to a spiritual lens, I see a lesson emerging. The phrase ‘take a step back’ has come to mean; to withdraw or remove oneself from something, often in order to consider it from a broader or more objective perspective. To consider the bigger picture.
Recently I heard someone say he has adopted a new strategy (a discipline) in regards to managing stress. When faced with a hard season of stress, frustration, and anxiety, he has learned to stop and ask himself, “In the next ten years, will this matter?” Will this difficulty, this tension, disagreement or misunderstanding remain or matter in ten years? Certainly our response to the thing matters and this practice is not advocating that we flippantly disregard our feelings or the feelings of others, just the opposite! The practice of stepping back means we don’t react so strongly when something or someone hard comes our way. It means acting and reacting differently when offended. It means recognizing that the current busy will not last forever. And it means thinking about the thing with a wider view - asking the Lord to help us to see the thing from his perspective.
But it does not mean we go silent in a situation or never speak truth into the hard. It does not mean we hide or step away. Rather, stepping back speaks to ‘how‘ we respond in the moment and in the moments that follow.
Will I replay it and stress over the thing, worry and obsess over what I should do or say? Will I let this hard thing keep me awake at night, worrying about the what if’s?
Or will I learn to take a step back even if it takes longer than I think it should? Will I take a step back and try to understand and ask for wisdom even if I’m frustrated? Will I, can I, step back, determined to listen to others or to seek God’s perspective even if it makes me feel out of control?
For those of you who know me, you know I can lean toward the dramatic. This discipline is hard for me and I don’t always want to have to step back! But I know if I keep practicing the step back, purposed to see His perspective, my perspective will change and even be clearer. I think if we were to adopt the step back, stop fretting and fussing and keep our feelings in check, (the work of the step back) we would find peace quicker, forgive quicker, rest better, react better, think better, breathe better and love better.
In my training I may not have been officially taught the physical skills of tracing objects, or the foot tap or the step back but in regards to this spiritual skill, I need to be taught and taught again -out of sheer necessity! Perhaps His response, and His perspective is right in front of us and we just need to take a step back to see it!
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17,18 NLT
Lord, Thank you for your promise of wisdom throughout your word. Let the mind of Christ transform the way we see the stuff in front of us. Teach us to see your way and your perspective as we aim to live out your purposes. In Jesus Name, Amen.