A few years back, I had a conversation with my 19-year old daughter (now 22) and it got me thinking. She was sharing some struggles she was having in a relationship she was in and that led me to say this: “We don’t realize when we’re young that life is so much bigger than our present situation. We fixate all of our attention and emotion on one pixel of the bigger picture, not realizing that this is just one pixel. Little by little, as time goes by, and we grow older, the rest of the picture comes into view.”
How often do we miss the bigger picture of our life because of the circumstances we find ourselves in at that present moment? How often do we find ourselves focusing all of our attention and energy on one or two pixels and fail to see the bigger picture around us? How often do our children do this? How often do they do this because they see their parents doing the same thing?
It’s pretty common for our children to focus their attention on one tiny pixel because their emotional make-up and ability to reason is still in development. Their default is to fixate on one problem or issue and count it as “the end of their life!” Parents of pre-teens or teens- how often have you heard that statement screamed in your household? One of our biggest tasks, as we raise our children to become productive adults, is to guide them through the seasons of life and help them bring the bigger picture into focus as they grow and mature.
Now, please understand: I’m not discounting major problems or serious personal issues. I realize there are families who have dealt with major trauma or heartbreak. Those moments are crushing blows to the human spirit. My heart breaks for those who’ve lost loved ones, had a spouse walk out on them, or grieved over a child battling addiction. We live in a fallen world, filled with more dark than light at times. Sometimes hurt like this begins to encompass more of the picture than just a pixel.
What I’m suggesting, for all of us, is a change in perspective. I believe that in many situations (not all, but many), if we were to take a deep breath, take a step back, and gain some healthy perspective, we’d begin to see that the moments we thought were the end of the world, or a crisis, or the best life was going to get, were only tiny pixels of the bigger, brighter picture of our lives. We must teach our children to do this as well.
In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, Paramount Pictures), there’s a scene where Ferris, his girlfriend Sloan, and his friend Cameron end up at an art museum. In the clip, Cameron stares at the face of a little girl in the work of art A Sunday Afternoon On The Island of La Grande Jatte (1884 Georges-Pierre Seurat). I saw this movie a long time ago but recently came across this clip. I believe it says so much about our fixation with individual pixels of the bigger picture. As Cameron focuses intently on the face of the little girl, he fails to see the beauty and peace of the bigger picture in front of him…
Have you had moments where you were stuck on a pixel and failed to see the bigger picture? How about your children?