“What have I gotten us into?” I thought as my four friends and I listened to an elderly gentleman with a few missing teeth tell us that all the restaurants in town were closed because of COVID and that the grocery stores were only open sometimes.
We were celebrating my friend’s 40th birthday and my own last trip as a single girl, and I had convinced everyone to get the super cheap tickets to the Virgin Islands rather than go on a trip I couldn’t afford to the Florida Keys. We had gone through the proper testing for our trip.
I had planned most of the vacation myself, including the Airbnb we had just checked into which was nice enough but was tucked into a pretty ghetto part of town.
It was our first afternoon and we had walked down the street to get our bearings. My too tight sandals had given me painful blisters all over my feet, as well as having some really hard news that the house my fiancé and I had fallen in love with was probably not going to work out for us to buy.
As we listened to our new friend tell us the bad news, I imagined that we would just have to cook all our meals at our airbnb, that there wasn’t much too this island at all, and that I had dragged my friends here for nothing.
My fear of making a choice that would disappoint people was raging. I think that fear might have been born when I was a teenager in the 90’s when I chose a video at Blockbuster that no one liked. I often avoided making choices that could potentially disappoint people. That first night, standing in the quiet dusty streets, It seemed that this trip was not going to be what any of us hoped it would be.
The next day, after eating lunch (Felix was actually wrong...lots of restaurants were still open) we got a taxi to take us over to the other part of the island. We drove over many hills and switchbacks. As we go to the top of the pass, we could suddenly see not just the tiny road in front of us, but expansive land and water on every side of us, the most beautiful turquoise water I have ever seen. That little dingy part of town that we were in the night before was so small compared to the rest of the island.
I realized that I had a completely limited view of this island that first night. It seemed drab and small to me, because I was only looking at what was right in front of me. As soon as that taxi took me up above, I saw things from a higher place. That dingy town became a beautiful island when I looked at it from a different height.
Perspective changes everything.
Of course, the prospect of a ruined vacation is not the hardest thing I have faced in my life. I have walked down at the unswept streets called “you will never be a mother.” I have walked through the desolate road of a chronic illness and traumatizing insomnia. The ghetto of 45 years of being without a partner had almost ravaged me at times.
And yet, now, as my body has healed, as the prospect of being a step mother and new wife is now on the horizon, I have been able to rise above, to see my life as onlooker might look down on a parade. And now I see...I see those blue waters surround the beautiful island that I thought was only a dingy street when I was down inside the middle of it.
As I grow older and more wise, my prayer is that I will no longer have to wait until a season is over to rise up over it and see the big picture. Dingy, dusty circumstances had clouded my vision fo too long. I want to gain perspective not only when something difficult is over, but when I am right in the middle of that dusty ghost town.
I want to learn to breathe in, breathe out, and rise.
Rise above my limited perception.
Rise above the emotions that make me feel like what is happening right now will be too much for me to bear and will ruin everything.
Rise above the idea that it will be like this forever.
I once heard it said that our life is like a tapestry. The only part of the tapestry we see is the back side. There are loose threads everywhere, and only a hint of what picture might be on the other side. But one day, God will turn that tapestry over, and the beautiful picture he had been weaving together the entire time will come into focus.
When we see that tapestry, we will be reminded again that perspective is everything.
What are you facing today? What dusty road are you walking that feels like it will never end? What circumstances are so close to your eyes that you can’t see them for what they really are?
Take God’s hand.