A Larger Perspective

We all knew from the moment the movie began that something bad was going to happen. It was just a matter of time until the teen heroine of Soul Surfer lost her arm to a savage shark attack while surfing with friends off the coast of Kauai. Her survival and recovery are companion-ed by a loving family and faith community, but her adjustment to life with only one arm is accompanied by grief, anger, frustration, and the haunting question of how this could be God’s will for her life. Understandably, her life dials down to the narrow focus of her present frustrations and defeats where she begins to make decisions she ultimately can’t live with. Her life begins to turn around when she takes to heart her youth leader’s wisdom about viewing one’s own problems from a larger perspective . A mission trip to a tsunami-ravaged village in Thailand gives her a larger perspective on suffering and loss.


Everyone in recovery knows the importance of living one day at a time. But, like the young woman in Soul Surfer, it’s sometimes helpful to have a larger perspective on things. Last week that larger perspective emerged for the women at The Lighthouse, a year-long residential substance abuse treatment program, as they painted “Seasons of Life”. Dividing her chronological age into four segments, each woman created images that, in shades of gray with symbolic accent colors, represented the various “seasons” of her life. The images and stories were compelling. It was a humbling privilege to hear, in two minutes or less, the condensed, powerful, heartbreaking, heartwarming stories of each woman.


Among the most memorable was the first “season” black and white convict striped image that represented growing up with a relapsing mother on heroin, or the first “season” filled with black asterisks symbolizing all the adults who refused to listen or protect when sexual abuse was revealed. Or the solid black third “season” representing a five year blackout during which a son was born. Or the large fourth “season” of sad, pale blue representing the heartache of the current calendar – a mother’s birthday, the anniversary death of an unborn child, and Mother’s Day.



Nevertheless, every fourth “season” image revealed a larger perspective. Though their images might contain elements of anxiety, sadness, or uncertainty, there was a prevailing hope in the future.  At the moment, each woman is in the process of surviving the harrowing shark attack of substance abuse, but believing in the larger redemptive perspective of recovery. 

Have you ever survived a “shark attack” experience? How did you gain a larger perspective of that event or time? What condensed, powerful, heartbreaking, heartwarming stories do you have to tell? If you were to paint your four seasons life in shades of gray, what would it look like? What symbolic accent colors would you use?

I’m looking forward to your comments.

4 comments to A Larger Perspective

  • Sally

    Oh Lynne, I am so grateful you share your world.
    One, two or even three bumps are nothing compared to a life of sorrow, loss and abuse.
    On my way to work this morning Jackson Browne’s song, Get Up and Do It Again, came on the radio. Despite the initial sadness of the lyrics the actual music is upbeat.
    I pray to keep the inner soundtrack of my life forever hopeful and upbeat.
    Thank you.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I know that my response isn’t exactly along the lines you are writing to, I am still processing your posting, but meanwhile — Let’s see, yesterday within a 12 hour span —

    1, I received news that a medical insurance issue, that my therapist and I were embroiled in for about a month, had been settled, when the insurance company who had originally authorized me to see the therapist in question had reneged on their decision, decided yesterday to go ahead and allow the therapeutic relationship to continue.

    2. I talked to my pastor about some changes that our congregation at our almost 48 year old church is been attempting to make.

    3. A single driver of a hummer vehicle committed three hit and runs within about a mile and a half stretch of a main road here in the town I live in, within which my roommates live about mid way.

    And I am trying to stay centered underneath the Cross as called to do yesterday in the piece posted here on I/O, within the somewhat relevant silence of this morning. The words of the wise coming to life as they almost seemingly jump off the page into action in the now. <:-) .

    Love, hugs and prayers,


  • Deanna J Bowling

    The above is a copy of what I posted on Inward/Outward this morning incase you are wondering about how I worded it.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    Well, taking into consideration that I will turn 68 years of age during this calendar year, the four quarters of my life at this point in time are 17 years in length – 17 + 17 = 34 + 17 = 51 + 17 = 68.

    The four stages were marked by the revealing of the truth in huge ways:
    at 17, my step-dad’s life prior to “marrying” my mom was revealed.
    at 34, I went into therapy for the first time.
    at 51, I looked for and found my daughter who I had given up for adoption at birth.
    at 68, I am going back into therapy again.

    They say the truth won’t hurt you. Well, I have found that it depends on the what the truth consists of, and the attitude of those it is being revealed to. I am looking forward to the revelation of truth during my next “quarter” of life.

    Love, hugs and prayers,


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