Missing the forest

I’ve been hard at work this week on an art project that will (I hope) be a gift for one of my nephews. He’s graduating from high school next week, and I’m a very proud aunt, despite having nothing to do with his success in high school. In fact, one time when I was visiting, he asked me how much math I had taken in school (I minored in it in college), and I told him I had forgotten most of the math I had learned, which, unfortunately, meant that I was useless when it came to helping him with the particular algebra-trig or calculus problem he was working on.

But I digress, and I don’t have time to digress. The gift is something for his college dorm, unless it ends up looking like something a 1st grader made (with apologies to any 1st graders reading this – I’m sure your art projects are fabulous).

Because I procrastinated in getting started on the project, I’m less than a week away from having to finish it and am spending several hours each day working on the tiny little details that make up the whole work. I’m sure I’m learning a great lesson in patience, but I also find myself wondering whose dumb idea it was to plan out such an complicated piece. Oh, yeah. Mine. 

At the end of each day, though, when I’ve had enough of working on a small area and am feeling a bit frustrated with the whole thing, I step back and look at the whole work. It’s slowly coming together … and I think it’ll end up looking pretty decent. At least, decent enough that I hope my nephew won’t just say thanks and then bury it in the back corner of his closet at home.

All of that has gotten me thinking about the expression about missing the forest for the trees. My art project is just one example where it’s so easy to get bogged down in details and not see a whole thing for what it is. And it has me wondering how often I miss other forests for the trees.

Do you find yourself missing the forest, too? Maybe it’s a great relationship you have with a husband or best friend or children that you take for granted while you gripe your way through your daily grind. Maybe you’ve gotten bogged down in the worries of a class you’re taking on the way to a more fulfilling career. Or perhaps a project at work has you so stressed out that you’ve forgotten that you really do have a great job that you enjoy.

I don’t know off-hand if there are Bible verses that speak to this tendency (perhaps the bazillion and one verses about not worrying), but I do believe that God wants us to keep the big pictures of his love for us and his plan for our lives in mind. He wants us focused on the forest and not each individual tree that can overwhelm and weigh us down.

How about you? Are you more of a whole forest or tree person? What helps you if you get bogged down in the trees?

I’ve got to get back to that art project, but I’ll look forward to taking a break to read whatever thoughts you share. Plus, that break will help me come back with fresh eyes about how much closer I am to finishing the project in time to celebrate a wonderful graduation.

The most intricate of art projects?
One more thing before I go. Remember Brian Dettmer, the book sculptor I blogged about a few months ago? He and his work were highlighted on CBS Evening News this past weekend. Check out the story. It certainly gives me a whole new perspective on intricate art projects. I can’t complain.

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