I’ve always wondered, What does it mean to have an eternal perspective in every day life? Here are a few thoughts and confessions about that topic.
I think I was literally holding my breath.
I was sitting in a room of about a hundred (two hundred? I’m a terrible estimator) other women, and Sally Clarkson had just posed a question:
What makes the difference between a woman whose life has impact and a woman whose life doesn’t?”
No one seemed to stir. Maybe we were all on the edges of our chairs as we waited for Sally to continue.
Of course we wanted to know the secrets of living a life of purpose and impact.
That’s why we were here, right? This diverse group of women, all hanging on Sally’s every word as we sipped tea and munched on chocolates and finger foods at the Mom Heart Conference in Dallas.
“The difference between a woman who has impact and a woman who doesn’t is the difference of that woman’s vision.”
I took pages of notes during the conference, but this quote is the one that has continued to resonate with me in the days since.
Vision. Eternal perspective.
Oh yes, Lord, I want that! It sounds so spiritual.
Today has been one of those days when phrases like “eternal vision” are about as abstract in my mind as calculus. (For all my math gurus out there: yes, I know that math is actually very concrete. But, in my mind, it’s abstract!)
Today, I’m not sitting at Sally Clarkson’s feet. I’m not thriving on the enthusiasm of hundreds of other women, and I’m not sipping tea and eating chocolate. (Okay, that last statement is debatable!)
Today, I’m sitting in a cluttered house with muddy floors and five children who are at least as tired as I am of cold weather, school work, and Day Light Savings Time. Please forgive the rant, but we just had “one of those” mornings.
By lunch time, I’d lost my cool, apologized, corrected some bad attitudes in my kids, and moved on with homeschooling. To be honest, I felt pretty defeated as a mom.
Why do I always struggle with bad attitudes? Why can’t we get to the place where we always get along and the house stays clean and nobody gets bent-out-of-shape?
My thoughts were hanging over my head like a storm cloud as I turned on the oven to heat up left-overs from last night.
My eleven-year old daughter was sitting across from me at our kitchen counter/island, working on a math lesson. Between messy rooms, math lessons, and emotions, we’d had a rough morning, she and I.
“Mommy, I really love you. You’re a wonderful mom.”
I glanced up to find my daughter’s gaze trained on me, her blue eyes deep with affirmation.
At that moment, I felt like I deserved anything but praise. And yet, here she was, extending grace and unconditional love to me.
Tears burned my eyes as I came around the counter and circled my arms around her.
All morning, I’d been wondering how on earth am I supposed to have an “eternal vision” on days like this?
When I think of “eternal vision”, the thoughts that come to mind are super spiritual ones, like prayer and family devotions and ministry.
But messy rooms, sassy kids, and grumpy moms? Where does THAT fit in?
I’m not trying to justify myself or my shortcomings in any way, but I believe that an eternal vision simply recognizes eternal value in the midst of the mundane.
Sees the importance of relationship over perfection.
Sees the value of humbly apologizing and starting over when you’re wrong.
Sees the scope of giving and receiving grace.
Sees potential where problems are most evident.
Today, and every day, having an “eternal vision” means that I recognize the importance of keeping the hearts of my children open toward me so that I CAN shape them toward godliness.
The spiritual stuff- like prayer and Scripture memory and family devotions- don’t mean a thing unless I’ve cultivated a loving, affirming relationship with my children on a daily basis. Eternal vision “gets” that.
Maybe eternal vision doesn’t make all the messy “stuff” in life go away. It just keeps me from tripping over it and breaking my neck!
Okay, that was a really “fleshly” sounding statement, but that’s how it makes sense to me.
Being a spiritual woman doesn’t mean I don’t have bad hair days, moods, issues with my kids, muddy floors and lack of sleep. It does mean that I can emotionally rise above those things and choose to focus on what really matters in the long run.
Like a good pair of glasses, eternal vision helps me focus and see life clearly… through God’s perspective.
I have more to share on this topic (in part two), but I thought the rest of my musings on eternal vision would sound like a bunch of fluff if I didn’t first tell you how I’m struggling to live it out in every day life.
Next time, I want to unpack this thought a little more deeply, and discuss how the gift of CHOICE is a powerful tool God has given us in learning to see life through an eternal perspective.
What about you? Does eternity seem to get buried beneath the piles of mundane, messy moments of life?
Do you ever struggle with this?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.