I’m on vacation today, in my favorite city in the world - Paris, France.
It’s good to get away. A change of location offers me a chance to consider another perspective on just about everything. I’ve been to Paris before, but I want to see the city from a Parisian’s perspective, not filter it from my own experience or viewpoint. I want to talk to people on the street (my French is pretty rusty), ask them about their opinions of their city, what it is they love about it, how I can see Paris through their eyes.
Many years ago I lived in France to attend language school, and in the throes of some serious culture shock, I remember telling myself that French people were not snooty, they were just different. That eating snails and horse burgers was not gross, it was an acquired taste. That taking three hours to eat a meal wasn’t a waste of time, it was savoring the moment and enjoying the company of others. It took a while, but I gradually altered my perspective, leaving behind everything I thought I understood so that I could appreciate and learn something new.
Taking the perspective of others is the only way I’m going to understand and learn from them. It’s the only way I’m going to get better at anything. The minute I use my own point of view as the reference point, I have greatly minimized my ability to accept another perspective, and I hinder what I can learn.
I read 2 Kings 18:5 in my devotional time this morning. Speaking of King Hezekiah, the writer wrote, “There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.” I was curious, so I looked up the account of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29:2, “From God’s perspective, he was a good king.”
Now there’s a difference in perspective here. You could say that from man’s vantage point, Hezekiah was such an incredible ruler that he was in a class by himself, but from God’s perspective, Hezekiah at his best was only a good king. The writers are talking about the same person, but the perspective is very different.
It’s never easy, but I find it’s better to look from the outside in, rather than the inside out. My perspective can become so me-focused that I lose objectivity. God’s perspective always has been and always will be from the outside in. He sees my life in terms of His plan - which is the big picture - and I’d much rather see myself from His perspective than my own.
Many of the things that used to bug me about Paris have now become the things I love about the city. It’s a matter of perspective. I intend to savor every minute of my time here.