A Changed Perspective
Have you ever heard about someone having an out-of-body experience? This phenomenon can occur during sleep, deep meditation or more commonly in a near-death experience. It is described as a person perceiving the world from a location outside of her physical body. A common example is when a person codes on a surgery table and she seems to float above the activity below. She sees her body on the table and all of the doctors and nurses frantically working to revive her. Maybe she even sees a loved one praying outside the door. She is stuck in this view, unable to communicate or change anything happening.
When I started to relive the few childhood memories that I had of my Father, they all had the common theme of an out-of-body perspective. I saw things from above. I would see the location and faces of other people, but I would never see my face. I seemed to play the role of an inanimate object, always observing but never interacting.
Re-experiencing these memories stuck in this perspective was frustrating to me. I’ve been given a gift, sometimes a curse, of profoundly remembering things of the past down to the most frivolous details. But I was trapped in this odd view.
Over a course of three years, I used my work commute to reflect on these memories. They weren’t bad memories. They just weren’t good memories either.
In one flashback I saw this little girl, me, sitting on the edge of a chair with her hands pressed against the padding. Her skinny legs were swaying back and forth lightly brushing the waxed tile. She turned her head to look down the long white corridor until her daddy appeared.
During another recollection I saw him leaning over me blowing smoke in my ear to ease the pain of an infection. The room was dark and I was resting while my mom kept checking my temperature hoping the fever would break.
Then I would see this gate. We were waiting for my dad to come through those bars to join us in the courtyard. A man in a very confused state, came to the bars first and shouted out “you’re not my sister.” Then I felt the warm sun shining down while we shared a chocolate cake to celebrate my sister’s birthday in that little courtyard.
I would relive those memories over and over searching for something I had missed. Looking for a different perspective.
Why do I keep reflecting on this Lord? I'd ask that question over and over again.
After three years I had finally forgiven. Truly forgiven at this point. Forgiven my Father. Forgiven myself. No more guilt, remorse, resentment. No more holding on to what was or what it could have been.
Just pure unadulterated freedom that comes with the commencement of the forgiveness process!
And you know what that was the point that I stopped rolling the film reel of memories past during my drive.
Instead I started looking around. I noticed the shimmer of sunshine on the water as I drove over the bridge. I laughed at the driver of the car next to me as he jammed out to music. Those American flags I passed captured my gaze as they ruffled in the wind.
Then I noticed a billboard right before my exit on the interstate. The trees in front of it had been trimmed back. Faded red from many years. Same simple white rooster logo. It was an advertisement for the breakfast joint that my dad would take my sister and me to when he visited.
How many times had I passed that sign?
How did I ever forget?
Tears graced my cheeks again, but a big ole’ grin swallowed them up, followed by uncontrollable laughter.
And like a film reel playing before me, I saw a little girl with blonde hair and thick bangs, freckles on her nose, and two big front teeth.
She was giggling so hard.
All because of a tiny coffee creamer.
Yep, you heard that right. One of those tiny little creamers that come in a plastic cup with a foil lid.
Being extra silly her dad showed that little girl and her sister how to use a spoon to flip the creamer in the air. He flipped a creamer extra high and it landed perfectly on this tiny ledge on the wall. The waitress came by right as it happened and they all placed their hands in their lap, stifled their laughter, and acted like nothing happened. As soon as she left the table, they burst into laughter.
My Dad had taught me that joy can be found in the littlest of things, like tiny coffee creamers.
And my Heavenly Father had to remind me that joy can be found even in the darkest of places.
Wouldn’t you know it? The next week the billboard received a facelift. It was still for the same breakfast joint, but it was now bright red with a new obnoxious looking pig for the logo. Kind of a bad ass biker pig with his arms crossed.
The old rooster was gone.
And I realized.
Three years and three times I had been put through the fire.
And three times I did not deny Him.
Instead I clung to Him.
Thank you Lord for tiny coffee creamers! And biscuits and gravy. I didn’t forget about those delicious biscuits and gravy!
What changed perspective do you need? What do you need God to make new again?
It's not always easy, but God can help you look at your past with fresh eyes. Reflection is different from dwelling. And in that reflection, you just might realize you weren't alone after all. He goes before you, He will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)