How I Learned to Truly See Things Differently

by Nikki Mark

Historic emblem with angel sculpture on building facade.

I’ve learned on this healing journey of mine that life is all about perspective. We can choose to view our circumstances through whatever lens we want, and if one’s not working for us, we can try out another… and another… until we finally discover a perspective that unlocks something new inside us and provides some much-needed clarity and peace.

Perspective changes everything.  

In fact, “How you perceive anything is what it means,” says author Paul Selig in his channeled text entitled The Book of Mastery.

“Look at that little dog, she is so cute,” one person might say. “Look at that little dog, she is going to bite me!” says another. As Selig’s guides point out, the truth depends on our perspective and the person’s history it’s based on. 

For me, finding new perspective was not a luxury, but a necessity.

One perspective I had on the loss of my son made me sink to deep, dark places and want to quit on life.

Another inspired me to honor and rise.

Instincts told me to cling to the latter and never look back.

Now, what I have noticed is that my ability to shift perspectives and create new ways of viewing the world helps me make peace with difficult relationships and overcome some of my greatest fears—including my lifelong fear of religion. 

Here’s the thing: I’ve never been religious. For most of my life, simply walking into a religious house of worship or engaging in any kind of religious discussion would give me the chills. Even as a young child, religion made me extremely uncomfortable.

I guess because I had never understood religion, I made a conscious choice not to engage in it.

Until… I lost my son Tommy in 2018. That was when I began to appreciate the power of community religion has to offer. 

Suddenly, churches, temples, and other places of worship no longer scared me. In fact, when I traveled abroad, I found myself walking into them with curiosity and ease, lighting candles and experiencing the beauty of prayer. 

I still didn’t have a preference for a particular religion, but I found some appreciation for all of them.

This change in perspective prepared me for what happened next:

I was in Rome back in June 2021 (on a soccer trip with my younger son) when I found myself fixating on the design of a Holy Cross carved above the entrance of a 17th century Baroque church called Sant’Agnese in Agone—located in the quaint Italian square Piazza Navona. 

I was on a bike tour at the time and as my Italian tour guide demonstrated his impressive knowledge of the square’s history, I tuned him out and fixated on the cross.  

“What’s that symbol for the Holy Cross stand for?” I asked.

He followed my finger to where it was pointing and said he had never been asked that question before. 

I figured he might not have understood my English, so I spoke slower.

“The symbol of that cross looks like it has a ‘T’ and an ‘M’ in it. Why is there a small ‘M’ just under the right side of the ‘T’?” I asked. “What does the ‘M’ stand for?”

He said he wasn’t sure, but thought that it stood for “Mary.”

“Which Mary?” I asked, knowing very little about either of them.

“The virgin one,” he said with an enchanting smile that one might expect from an Italian.

As he went on to describe how this charming and bustling square was used back in its day, I zoomed in closer on the cross and could not believe my eyes. 

The “TM”-looking cross was almost exactly like the “brand logo” Tommy had designed only a few months before he passed away as part of a middle school project.

Handwritten motivational note with symbol and text.
Tommy’s logo

Of course, the “TM” in Tommy’s design stood for his initials, but the way he had assembled the letters looked almost identical to the religious symbol carved on the church in front of me.

I pulled out my phone, snapped a picture of the cross, and sent it to my husband, who was still asleep back in Los Angeles. I wondered whether I was overthinking it. 

“Look what I saw today in Piazza Navona,” I texted him, wishing he’d wake up. 

He texted back a few hours later, “Are you kidding?”

His eyes couldn’t believe it either, so he shared the photo with his Facebook friends to get their reaction.

“Maybe your 9% Italian roots can be traced back to Rome,” I half-joked, referring to the surprising results of a DNA test he had received a few years earlier.

“Or maybe,” I continued, “Tommy lived here in some other lifetime, so that when he drew his brand logo in this one, it came from a distant memory.”

Knowing this last remark had pushed him too far, I silently wondered: Or maybe… we all lived here in Rome together in another lifetime and actually went to church!

As I explored multiple perspectives and allowed my imagination to run wild, my interpretation of the Holy Cross forever changed. Suddenly, I saw a “T” in every cross and a cross in every “T,” and the symbol I had feared my entire life miraculously made me smile with wonder.

Paul Selig says that his spirit guides teach the following: “Whatever you see, you are deciding the meaning of,” and we rely on our personal history to tell us what it should mean to us.

From a human perspective, I am well-aware that the historical meaning of the Holy Cross has not changed. Nor has the reality of losing my son.

But from a soul’s perspective, which is full of imagination and possibilities, I have found it incredibly empowering and healing to view the world with new eyes and make it the one I want to see.

In fact, whenever I’m presented with challenges of any kind, I now ask myself the question that Selig’s guides recommend: “What have you come to teach me?”

Sometimes, the answer is clear within seconds, and I can joyfully move beyond the challenge with great satisfaction. Other times, it takes weeks, months, or even years before I find the right lens. But when I do, a shift takes place inside me that magically alters my human experience of this physical world, too. That’s when I know I have found the right perspective for me.

Selig’s guides insist that we all have the freedom to “re-see” our circumstances, relationships, and fears in whatever way feels right to us.  

When we do, the past begins to heal.

The future transforms. 

And genuine change occurs that opens our hearts and our minds, for the benefit of all.

P.S. If you’d like more stories “from the trenches” on how I was taught to see things differently when dealing with contentious neighbors as I tried to honor my son and get an athletic field built in our community, pick up your copy of Tommy’s Field: Love, Loss, and the Goal of a Lifetime today!

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