Reframed: Frames, Filters & Focus
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” -Unknown
Have you ever been rushing to get somewhere and find yourself behind the slowest driver in the world? The instant frustration rises in your chest as your hands grip the steering wheel as you mutter something like, "seriously, can you drive any slower." When you finally have the chance to pass this inconsiderate person, who clearly was unable to follow the speed limits, you instinctively seek to make eye contact with the individual as you drive by them.
Yet, what you see through your window suddenly changes your emotional state and your hands lose their once white-fisted grip on the steering column.
For the turtle-like driver, whom you hoped to give a distaining glance to on your way past, is not simply taking a Sunday drive or knowing trying to make you late -As you clearly see their tear-stained face and water-filled eyes flash by your window, your heart opens to the possibility that this driver's slowness had an alternative causation.
This is the Power of Perspective.
Perspective is simply the way we view something.
One’s perspective is made up of a unique frame and focus which powerfully orients how one interacts with the world.
As shown in the opening story, our perspective of a given situation directly orients our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors.
To better understand perspective, let’s break it down into three parts:
This can be described as the dimensions of our active knowledge. What we see, hear, and feel. Much like the frame of a camera, our perspectives work within the limitations of the knowledge available to us. It is within this frame we see only what is within our perception, unaware of what may be outside its borders.
Our Filter can be viewed as our internal bias, made up of past experiences and personal values, our filter influences how we see the world, ourselves,
others, and God. Thus, one's filter is based on individual experiences and a personal set of values.
Finally, in addition to our available knowledge and personal worldviews, our perspective is formulated by what it focuses on. One’s focus, largely influenced by its frame and filter, connects our thoughts and feelings to given situations.
Here is the problem with perspectives, they are not always founded on truth and often fueled by distorted filters or focus. Intern our perspectives throughout centuries have caused significant distress and discouragement.
Think about it, How are your perspectives impacting you currently?
If you are anything like me, you have seen how your perspective can promote distortion when not aligned with the full-frame of truth.
*Enter the concept of Reframing*
To reframe something is to simply view something differently.
This technique, rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, helps us to broaden our perspective and allows us to realign our frame, filters, and focus.
Whenever I use the concept of reframing in my clinical practice, I am brought back to the biblical implications this psychological term holds.
Did you know that scripture instructs the reframing of our minds? How cool is that!
Due to the distortion of sin in our world, our minds are easily swayed by deception. This is why we are reminded in scripture to take our thoughts captive, to renew our minds with truth, and set our minds on things above.
This process of untangling our automatic thoughts and attitudes by realigning our perspectives with truth is one that takes time but God’s word gives us applicable instruction on how to reframe our thoughts, renew our hearts, and redeem our perspectives in light of truth. It is this framework, we will use throughout the next month to expose distortion, eliminate discouragement, and empower our pursuit of Christ.
Before we dive into the major topics of this series, I want to provide a biblical framework we will use as the main tool for our reframing work.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, .” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5)
Although our human frame is limited in knowledge, this truth, seen in Paul’s words to the church in Corinth, describes the power we possess through the Holy Spirit to take hold of the knowledge of God. Paul urges his audience to understand that “divine power” (God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, the armor of God, etc.) is what disarms the strongholds and distortion of this world. In verse five, Paul gives us two applications of the use of God’s divine power to reframe our lives.
First, we are invited to access God’s power through His Word with which we “destroy arguments and opinions raised against it.” We need to know the truth to identify the lies that we may come up against.
Secondly, we are encouraged to apply God’s truth, by taking every thought captive to Christ. By choosing to capture our thoughts, we consciously place them in their proper place, in full submission to Christ.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 1-2).
Our filters have failed.
From the very beginning, Adam and Eve fell prey to Satan’s distortions of truth as we still do today. This is why Paul encourages believers to replace their brokenness and self-sufficient filters, formed by the world's ways, and no longer conform to the world’s ways of thinking. This “renewing of one's mind” is a healing process - an internal working of the Holy Spirit in us through sanctification. As we seek to take hold of Truth’s frame, our filter will begin to change. We will begin to see things differently as we are transformed by God’s mercy and understand His will for our lives.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” ( Colossians 3:1-4).
Truth’s focus is always and forever eternal.
Paul states, “If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above…” This is an important statement Paul is making. He is asking his readers to evaluate their position before Christ. “IF you have been raised with Christ...”
Friend, if you have yet to take hold of the hold of heaven, the focus of your perspective will be daily challenged and frequently changed. Yet, Christ offers us a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls through salvation. By placing our faith in the hope of Heaven, our focus becomes fixed on the things above.
Paul even gives further instruction by reminding us to set our minds on what is eternal rather than temporal. To “set” our minds on something is intentional and deliberate in nature. No matter the frame or filter, our focus can remain the same - joyfully chasing the glorious hope of heaven.
Week One Reframe
With this new understanding of our perspectives and God’s framework for reframing, let’s take this week to start becoming more aware of our current perspectives, our automatic filter, and focus. I pray that we may begin to take hold of God’s divine power to captivate our thoughts, inviting the Holy Spirit to renew our perspectives, as we place our focus on the hope of eternity.
Through the next month, I want to explore four specific topics and seek to reframe each with this Truth perspective.
Here is what to look forward to...
Week 2: Our Purpose
Week 3: God’s Promises
Week 4: People Problems
Week 5: Our Pain
My hope through this series is that we may explore the purpose and process of reframing our thoughts so that we may live in the light of truth and experience the freedom found in powerfully new perspectives.
Till next week!