If you’ve ever visited the Grand Canyon you know what a majestic site it is. I’ll never forget how small I felt as I walked up to the south rim on a hot July day. I was twenty years old; it was an overwhelming feeling.
I remember the wind and the sun. I remember peering out across the canyon as far as my eyes could see. I also remember watching hikers carrying packs on the trails deep below me. And in that moment, I wanted to be one of those hikers; I wondered what they could see. How did their vantage point change their perspective of my limited view?
While I didn’t know what it felt like to hike down into the Grand Canyon, I was keenly aware that those who did had a different perspective from mine. And while the idea of hiking wasn’t interesting at all at the time, I was jealous of what those hikers might experience by going down there. Their trip to the Grand Canyon that day was far richer than mine. No matter what obstacles (or animals) they discovered on the trail, they left with a different perspective than I did.
You see, our experience impacts our perspective.
- The parent of a newborn and a parent of a college grad have a very different perspective of parenting.
- The college grad pitching a start-up idea and the venture capitalist with five successful companies to their name share a different perspective of business.
- The seminary student and the pastor of forty years share a different perspective of ministry.
But have you ever noticed how so often the ones with a limited view and experience shout the loudest about the way things are or should go?
Often while watching a basketball game, my kids will say something like, “That was so easy” or “I could’ve made that shot”. I laugh to myself knowing they have no clue how difficult those shots really are, or the work required to even be down on the floor. Our imagination fills in the gap for our lack of experience, and so often we overestimate our abilities or underestimate what the job really requires.
They make it look so easy. The best parents, the best leaders, the best athletes do. But if you go and talk to them, I have a good feeling they have stories of how hard it really was. Rarely is it as easy as it seems.
All too often we take our limited perspective from high above the guard rails to tell the people hiking down below what to do. Wait to offer your advice until you get down into the canyon with them.
The older I get, the more aware I am of my limited perspective in many areas of life. I look back ten years ago at opinions and beliefs I was dead set on and laugh. Oh how experience changes perspective. But I can also see areas I’m more firm and confident in because I’ve taken the time to dig down deeper and can understand more clearly.
My experience changed my perspective.
- My perspective of God changed when I experienced forgiveness.
- My perspective of faith changed when I experienced tragedy.
- My perspective of love changed when I experienced marriage.
- My perspective of grace changed when I experienced adoption.
My limited perspective from the south rim of the Grand Canyon isn’t one to be ashamed of. After all, I did drive there from California. I did put in some effort. But I’m no expert. And I’m not the one to seek travel advice from when planning a trip there.
We don’t need to dive deep into everything. But, the things that are important, the things that matter, the things we are passionate about- they’re worth the time, the cost, and the struggle on the trail to discover and experience. And those are the things too many of us are standing up on the top of the rim just watching (& shouting at) the people below.
When it comes to the areas you are passionate about, what is your perspective? Is it a limited one or one of rich experience? What kind of hike may you need to take?
How have your experiences shaped your perspective?