A Matter of Perspective

Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other stars.  


A number of years ago, Dale Carnegie shared the story of Thelma Thompson. Thelma was married to a man in the military who was stationed near the desert. She hated the sand, she hated the fact that she was stuck home alone, she hated that her only neighbors were the native Indians who did not speak her language. She was lonely and she was tired and she had had enough.

Thelma wrote to her father that she was at the end of her rope and was ready to return home. Her father quickly replied with a letter consisting of two lines - "Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars". These two lines changed her life, so she began to do what people always must do when confronted with adverse circumstances: She did what she could.

Thelma began to take a closer look at the desert. She discovered sea shells in those desert sands left from an age gone by. She got to know the Indian women, showing a genuine interest in their activities. She noticed the craftsmanship in the pottery that these Indian women made, and these gracious women began to make special gifts to her because of her appreciation. She began to see just how lovely the sunrises and sunsets were in the desert, and looked forward to each passing day.

In short, she began to look for the beauty in the desert, and she found it. She began to look for beauty in the people, and she found it. She began to look for beauty in all of God's creation, and she found it. Note that the desert, her neighbors and her circumstances did not change. It was when her perspective changed that her life changed - from a miserable existence, to one of admiration, appreciation and thankfulness.

What circumstance in our lives would not be improved with such a transformation? If you or I should find ourselves in unbearable circumstances, perhaps it is time for a change of perspective.

Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4, NIV