Once after a talk, I had just given, a lady came up to me and said, “I thought I was drowning in a ocean, but after hearing your story, I realize that I am just drowning in a thimble.” She explained,
“I’ve magnified my problems in my mind to such an extent that I’ve felt like I’m drowning in an ocean and I now realize they aren’t as big as I’ve made them out to be. Thank you for helping me put things into perspective.”
What she meant was that her problems (from her new perspective) were minuscule or thimble size in comparison to mine. I had an impact on her that day and she in equal measure, had an impact on me. Just as her problems paled in comparison to mine, so do my problems when compared to others. So let’s put things into perspective. Some people are dying; others are homeless or refugees; many have mental or physical illness; some are jobless! Some are losing a loved one, a home, or a marriage today. Others are losing their freedom, their ability to walk, see, or hear. All of us I suppose tend to make our situations worse than they really are by focusing on the worst outcome. But, in all cases, our stories (trials, tribulations, or woes) when compared to others may not be that bad.
It Could Be Better, but It Could Be Worse
I felt like I too was drowning in a thimble after hearing a prison account of a young girl in Iran who was imprisoned because of her faith in God. Imagine this: A young girl was imprisoned for three years simply because she was trying to teach the youth around her about God. She was only able to get 30 minutes of sunlight a day and lived in isolation, no refrigerator, no mirror, no one to talk to. And yet her account of the experience was filled with gratitude.
She faced each day prayerfully, reciting “Is their any remover of difficulties save God…” over 1000 times a day! And, the brief time she was out of prison, she was comforting families of the imprisoned, typing her notes so that she could share her prison accounts, and getting books so that she could continue to learn. She was a Baha’i in a Muslim country teaching the youth to love everyone, that there was only One God, One Human Race, and One Unfolding Religion, from time immemorial. For wanting to promote unity, she had all of her freedoms stripped away from her.All I can say is, “What a jewel.” I pray that God continues to protect and bless her and keep her strong.
Put Things into Perspective
When I heard her story, I too had had to put things into perspective. For while I too had felt that I drowning in a ocean, her story helped me to see that it was only a thimble. What a wonderful message of faith, patience, radiant acquiescence, and service she taught me by her encouraging words written from that prison. Many of us think we have a reason to complain. And we begin and end our days spreading our pain, gloom and doom. But when we hear a story of adversity, like the one of this young girl, all of our problems pale by comparison. We can change our perspective IF we choose to. Now today, you have a choice on how you will choose to view the world. Will it be from a perspective of gratitude, hope, or power? We can spend the day parroting bad news or we can focus our thoughts on the good around us. You can choose to view your circumstances as an ocean and picture yourself powerless, sinking, or drowning OR view yourself and your God as powerful and put all of what you are going through in perspective. Ocean as a thimble? Your choice will impact your joy, happiness, and that of those around you.