What my pants taught me about perspective

I cleaned house all weekend. Dusting. Sweeping. Moving furniture. Rearranging furniture. Cleaning and scrubbing and planning and organizing. With my parents moving back in with me at the farm, we decided we needed to do some major purging before reuniting our respective houses of furniture and assorted possessions.

I’ve emptied out closet after closet of old clothes that I don’t wear anymore. Some we just threw away because they were so torn up they wouldn’t have been any good to anyone. Others have gone into a donation stack, and others I think we’re saving for a garage sale.

But I’m pretty sure that my brand new pair of khaki pants from Old Navy ended up in the donation bag. Either that or I’ve hidden them so well I’ll never find them again.

Did I get upset? Well, not really. It’s pretty silly to get upset over a pair of khaki pants. But at the same time, those stupid things cost me a decent amount of money. And it’s not like I enjoy shopping. I go every two years if I have to. If I don’t have to, I push to every three years.

But people aren’t always rational or logical, and sometimes you just get upset about silly things. And it’s in those moments when you have to make a choice about how you’re going to see your situation. Is it a problem? Or is it an opportunity?

Dew on grass blades at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX (photo by my brother)

Dew on grass blades at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX (photo by my brother)

Today’s verses are Philippians 4:11-13.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.

I really liked that pair of pants. They fit just right. They were just the right length. But is a pair of pants really worth getting upset about when you misplace them?

No.

Come on, it’s just a pair of pants. You can run down to the store and buy another pair. It was nobody’s fault. Sometimes things like this just happen, and we’re fortunate it was only with a pair of pants and not with something more valuable–or irreplaceable. Because I can pop down to Old Navy and buy another pair easily.

So I came face to face with a choice. I could be upset about it and try to pin blame, or I could let it go.

Guess what I chose to do?

Seriously, life is too busy to waste any time fretting about an easily replaceable pair of pants. Sure, the other pants I have aren’t the ones I really like, but I’ve got other pairs of pants. It’s not like I haven’t got other clothes.

The principle works the same in every other area of our lives. We flip out at the drop of a hat sometimes, and if we’d take a moment to think about it, we’d realize we’re freaking out over nothing. Or if it’s not nothing, we’re freaking out over something that can be replaced. Few things in life are irreplaceable, if we’re being honest about it. And it’s those things that we should focus on. It’s those things we should spend our time and effort in maintaining and obtaining.

Perspective. It’s a choice.

Freak out about bad stuff that happens, or look for the positive in it? Every bad situation has something positive in it. I promise you. You just have to look for it. And the more you look for the positive in every situation, the better you’ll be at spotting it. The better you get at focusing on what God is doing in your life, the less attention you’ll pay to the stuff that isn’t going the way you want it to.

I could get upset because I don’t have my new pair of khakis anymore. Or I could be glad because someone at a Goodwill in Wichita is going to get a really nice, barely worn pair of Old Navy khakis for a really excellent price.

What is your perspective? What are you focusing on today? What matters to you this week? Is it something that’s going to last, or is it a pair of khakis you can replace?

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