One of the advantages of aging is the potential to gain perspective. I use the word “potential” because perspective is more a result of maturity – which is not specifically age dependent. There are wise young people and clueless older folks. Still, life experience gives us an advantage if we are actively aware.
So many of the clients I have seen get stuck in the small story of their lives.
Often, the things these people fight over are of little or no value. Who lost the car keys? Why are you late? Did you really need another pair of shoes? Who forgot to……? Why can’t I spend money on what I want – I work hard.
All of these little squabbles erode the closeness of a relationship. Over a period of time we begin to judge the quality of the relationship as poor. We fight for power, control, significance and sometimes just being “right”. But we find ourselves emotionally alone and unhappy – the master of our own broken world of one.
Those who are able to see their lives as a part of a bigger story will make different decisions.
If I am a father, my children will be observing how I treat their mother. If I am an employer, my employees will watch how I deal with conflict and difficulties. If I claim to be a Christian, but love does not flow from me how is Christ honored? Will my anger, bitterness, resentment and argumentativeness ever serve a higher cause? It is in the small corners of our lives where our integrity is established. All our small decisions add up to the measure of who we are – whether anyone is watching or not.
There is a point in our lives where more of our focus needs to be outwards, not just inwards. The inward journey is establishing who we are to become: our identity, our values and our spiritual self. But the outward journey is letting others benefit from our ongoing self-development. Often this is a difficult shift because it requires maturity and self-control. The basis and process for making decisions change. Can I see the world more in terms of “us” rather than just “me”?
The big picture says I was not put here on earth simply for my own pleasure, to get as much as I can and to let the chips fall where they may. I realize that those chips fall on others, often painfully. Will I use my strength to promote positive outcomes even if it means sacrificing my pride or embracing some other form of suffering?
Choosing that path is entering into the big story – a transcendent life, the one worth living. But it will change the things I fight for.