Have you ever been so overwhelmed and besieged by a problem that if you could draw a picture of how you feel it would look like this?
You feel like you’re standing alone, in a blank, silent, whitewashed space, without proper support, if any. Perhaps your friends and family have walked away or just don’t get it. Maybe you’re in your own private hell, dealing with something so unjust or complex that you doubt other human beings would understand if you tried to explain. Feeling alone in a problem is a horrible place to be.
One day when I was in this situation, I drew a picture like the one above on a Post-it note (some of you already know I’m a big believer in Post-it note therapy). A stick figure can scarcely represent the depths of your anguish and horror when you’re in a place like this. And then a thought popped into my head, which was no accident, and I drew a second picture. This picture represents what’s actually going on in that situation if you’ve put your faith in God.
There’s God, Father, Creator, Redeemer, seated on His throne with countless angels around Him. He sends some of those angels to minister to us and help guide us through these horror story chapters in our lives. He’s watching. He’s keeping score. He knows just how viciously you’ve been attacked and how far others have walked away from you in your time of need. More than anyone else, supremely, perfectly, awesomely, He knows. And if you’ve put your trust in Him, somehow He will use it for your greater good.
If you’ve ever experienced despair or isolation to this level, it can be difficult to believe that anything or anyone hears your silent screams. Here’s what I’ve learned to do in those situations, though, these times when we’re focused on the pervasive refrain that echoes through our souls like shrapnel, “oh God, why is this happening to me?”
You’re not the only one there. You’re not the only one who understands. There is something going on behind the scenes that can be leading to a solution or future more glorious than you can imagine. If you continue to trust in God no matter how deep the horror, you can be sure that even if you do not receive vindication in this life, you will in the next. It will come. Your prayers will not be denied.
Do you see the problem I’ve had, and many of us had? When we’re looking at ourselves in these situations, we are zoomed in. Why is this happening to me? How will I get out of this? Adjust your lens and zoom out. It can give you a very different picture of what is actually going on– true reality. Instead of being on the ground wondering what’s around you, you’ll be like a pilot in the cockpit at 10,000 feet.
I was reminded of this lesson the other day when I was deep into a theological video. Being the critical thinker I am, I was harrumphing, hmming, and “yeah”ing my way through the presentation when the speaker jolted me out of my critique by saying something amazing. He said, “did you know that if you map out the way the Israelites set up their camp in the wilderness that it was in the shape of a cross?”
I’d just read this passage in the Manufacturer’s Handbook and while I’d puzzled over the configuration, playing around with it from a ground level view, it hadn’t even occurred to me to– zoom out. As this speaker said, if you were looking down on this camp of two million or so people from the air at nighttime, when their campfires were burning bright and God hovered there in a pillar of fire, you would have seen a fiery cross, which later became the symbol of salvation.
I still want to diagram this for myself based on the population and position of each of the tribes. Some argue that the shape would have been more of a square. But if true, it’s especially remarkable because the prince of the powers of the air (another term for Satan, Ephesians 2:2) and his minions could have looked down and seen this breathtaking symbol of God’s glory blazing up through the charcoal sky. I would have caught this the first time if I’d just– zoomed out. Think of Superman when he suddenly shoots up into the atmosphere, steely gaze resting upon the curvature of the earth.
This concept– looking at the bigger picture and what’s going on behind the scenes– is extremely applicable to investigations and law enforcement work as well. We tend to focus on the crimes of a particular person, a set of crimes happening within only one jurisdiction, or thoroughly investigate a suspect while omitting victimology. We get focused, fixated, hypnotized, staring at that one person, problem, or thing and expecting to solve it or prosecute someone from that angle.
The other day I caught myself pointing this out to someone. The more I learned about the situation, the more clear it became that there was a lot else going on than the misdeeds of just one person. It was an organized effort of at least several people. There might not be enough evidence to hold just that one person or organization accountable, but if you start looking into their associates and talking to other jurisdictions and entities, you will almost certainly find more evidence. A clear pattern will emerge. The dots will connect. But that’s the problem: we zoom in and stare at what could be just one aspect of a whole situation.
This is an issue that comes up in serial killer investigations. It was actually a procedural problem in such cases for a long time. Agencies would not ask other agencies if they had similar cases– or any cases. They would try to solve a murder based on information that only their agency or area or state had. Serial killers can be mobile. They can take lives all over the place. No one should ever assume that they’ve lived in one place all their life, never change their MO, or always dispose of their victims at the same site. You have to consider that there is more going on than you can see or imagine.
One solution to this problem came out of my home state of Washington. Investigators involved with cases like those of Bundy and Ridgway started gathering and organizing data so that they could see the bigger picture. By comparing notes and sharing information with other jurisdictions, they were able to develop a much more realistic portrait of how these murderers were operating. They also noted similarities in the victims. So rather than zeroing in on their own backyards, they adjusted their camera angle and jumped to an aerial view. Other people, other places, other police agencies can and did have the same problem.
Just last night, I was embroiled in some research and stewing over how to obtain a particular piece of information. I realized that I had expected to obtain this information easily from one place and when I didn’t, I was irked. I needed to… zoom out. This kind of information could be held by several different entities, both public and private, yet I’d put all my eggs in one basket in my haste to obtain it.
Once I did a quick run-through in my mind of the possible repositories of what I was looking for, and began to contact them, I realized that I should have switched to aerial view immediately upon not getting what I wanted the first time. After putting some feelers out, I got a quick reply that solved my problem. I just needed to use my wide angle lens and change my perspective. I was so hung up on squeezing juice out of one particular lemon that I ignored the more viable lemons in the same bowl.
Next time you find yourself alone, betrayed, perplexed, stymied, working hard to solve a problem, or otherwise in need of a breakthrough, zoom out. Step back. Switch to aerial view. There is more going on than you know and often when you are willing to adjust your way of looking at things, you realize that you have already been given the power or tools to get through the situation. They were already there, hidden on the perimeters of your field of vision because you were, understandably, so focused on yourself or things in your immediate vicinity that you didn’t notice them. It’s like trying to identify someone who just walked into a room by staring intently at their bare left foot.
Ultimately, sometimes we just need to adjust our angles and try to see these situations as God sees them– as a whole, as a bigger picture, from above. If you choose to change your perspective and start looking at things this way, who knows what wonders God can accomplish through you. It causes you to acknowledge that He’s there. He has a plan. He can take your darkest sorrows and turn them around into unprecedented victories. He can give you the tools and answers to improve and save others’ lives.
It’s so simple, yet so often overlooked. Just zoom out.
Never solve a problem from its original perspective. –Charles Thompson
©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.
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