Have you ever gotten so lost in the details of something that you looked up and realized you may have missed the bigger picture? As a girl growing up in Oregon, the first time I heard the phrase, “She can’t see the forest for the trees” I thought it sounded silly. Impossible even. Being surrounded by Oregon forests in every direction, I just didn’t see how you could miss one, no matter how focused you might be on the individual trees. But later in life, I understood.
It can happen innocently enough. We become so intent on getting the details right, that the details begin to consume us. They captivate our thoughts, time and attention. We might even believe that if we work hard enough on the details, then the bigger picture will take care of itself. That’s what happened to me. I was busy trimming trees when the forest caught on fire.
It started with the deal I had made with God when my marriage had suffered a crisis years earlier. I would do everything possible to be an award-winning godly wife (if only there were such awards!) and He would keep my marriage healthy and whole. So I studied God’s word and prayed faithfully. I submitted to my husband and followed him and loved him and forgave him…again and again…and gradually over the years I began to work harder and harder to keep the shiny veneer of our life looking perfect from the outside. But inside, something was wrong.
You see I had a problem…
I was just not comfortable with looking at the truth when it was too difficult or ugly.
When I say not comfortable, I actually mean I was terrified of it. I didn’t believe I could handle it. So I kept pretending that if I only tried harder to get the details right, I could keep the worst from happening. But the worst was happening – the big picture truth was that our marriage was sinking and I was struggling alone to keep us afloat. I had missed the forest for the trees.
But God hadn’t missed it. He was waiting to show me the great big beautiful life He had for me. Just as soon as I was willing to let go of everything I had been trying so hard to control. That meant no more avoiding or candy-coating the hard truths in my life. And I would need to abandon my persistent belief that I needed to pretend to be perfect. Yes, it was scary – at times it was terrifying. But what a relief that I don’t have to hide behind getting all of the details right anymore. I can lift up my head and look squarely at the truth – the whole truth – no matter how challenging it might seem, and say, “Yes, God. I see it. And I know you can redeem it.”
The view of the forest is spectacular from here!