Humans live in a constant state of fear. We are worried. Stressed. Scared. We have chosen a perspective that invites fear. It informs how we define victory and defeat, who we cast as enemies and heroes, and the charge of our emotions and decisions.
Each life is a story. The way we view our circumstances is a huge part of the story. One of the reasons the world is in such a state of chaos today is because of the perspectives we adopt concerning our circumstances.
With fear as prevalent as it is, we find it easy to cast our circumstances as enemies. They are trials we need to overcome, problems we need to solve. This is why we are so addicted to drama, so fascinated with the negative. We might complain about all of the negativity on the news, but the truth is the news reports the things we want to see most. We want the world to be falling apart so that we have an enemy to blame.
We view our circumstances like a trial. We are desperately fighting for our innocence, always on the defensive. The circumstance is sitting at the little table across from us. We glare over at it with hatred and despair. Fear. When the trial is over, either our circumstance will win or we will.
We treat relationships in much the same way. Even, maybe especially, when we care deeply for someone, we spend so much time in comparison and competition with them, fighting for our own way.
But our circumstances are not a trial. They are not an accusation or a condemnation of our identity.
Circumstance is the setting, the arena in which we make our choices. It is not evil, not out to get us, to accuse or condemn. Circumstances are neutral. They are the backdrop, the hastily put together decorations for a school play. They simply invite us to make our choices. They do not dictate our choices. They provide an atmosphere in which our choices live and breathe and have real consequences.
The real tragedy of this inaccurate perspective is that we miss the chance to make a better life for ourselves. We are ranting and raving while choices are available to us. We are writhing in pain, frustration, and fear when hope and joy and betterment are at our fingertips. The impossibility of controlling our circumstances causes us to drift further and further from the truth, from reality.
We are inaccurate. Missing the truth, we fill in the holes of our story with confirmation bias and attempts at instant gratification. We can’t bear to hear anything new. Anything that challenges our current perspective is an assault. And so, we get different news programs for each political party. We get churches and social clubs and schools sorely lacking in diversity.
All of this is the weighty undercurrent of today’s society and, more importantly, our individual perspectives. The secret to living well is not perfect circumstances but a proper perspective around all circumstances.