The girl looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was happy with what she saw. Her hair was shiny. Her skin was smooth. And her smile was bright. She was happy, that is, until she turned the mirror to the magnified side. There she saw only the ragged split ends of her hair, cavernous pores upon her face and crooked yellow teeth. In a split second her pleasure changed to depression. Seeing herself magnified up-close, this beautiful girl couldn’t imagine anyone seeing her as anything but grotesque.
The girl’s story seems extreme, yet, much of the stress we feel in life is caused by a similar distorted outlook. We completely lose sight of the big picture as we narrow our attention on the perceived defects in or around us. A co-worker not responding when we greet them in the hall becomes confirmation that no one likes us. A car cutting us off in traffic becomes disrespect warranting rage. An unexpected visit from a friend becomes an evaluation of our self-worth based on the cleanness level of our home.
The feeling of stress is not caused by events that happen to us but is the result of our perception of those events. The way we view things has a tremendous impact on our ability to cope. We all experience stress in our lives yet some are more resilient than others and much of that difference is found in the view we choose. When we come under stress, a critical step is to take inventory of our thoughts to determine if we are looking at the situation with a balanced perspective or through intense magnification. We maintain a healthy outlook when we choose a wide-angled telescope instead of a microscope; for with it we see the event in perspective, not losing the bigger picture, while keeping our focus on heaven. So the next time you’re feeling stressed, check and see. Did you grab your telescope or your microscope?
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2