When I was 18, I discovered I did not have good eyesight. I had not known that before. Sure, I strained to see the blackboard if I was in the back of a classroom. But who didn’t? (or so I assumed). I got by just fine. I enjoyed spectacular views. I appreciated the beauty of a sunset. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing wrong with my vision. I had no idea that I was locked into an impressionist’s view of the world (if you’re not an art buff, look it up).
One night, when it was raining hard, I was driving some friends home from the mall (because, you know, the mall was where teenagers still hung out in 1990 – don’t judge me!). The street lights glared on the roadway, and I was finding it tough to see the lines. Still, “No biggie,” I thought. It’s just a little rain.
Suddenly, my friend in the passenger seat yelled, “Look out!” The lane I was in shifted slightly to the right where a small grassy, concrete-curbed median divided the highway.
And I did not see it.
BAM! The front left tire hit the curb of the median at 45 mph. We were tossed around the car a bit, but after a quick turn of the steering wheel, I found myself back in the correct lane. My friend asked me, “Dude, did you not see that?” Scared, embarrassed, and worried, I replied, “No.”
It’s hard to damage a 1970 Buick Wildcat, but I did. I had ripped the top of the shock absorber from its mount. I had cracked the frame. Repairs involved a lot of welding.
But the biggest damage was to my confidence. I thought I could see, but I could not. And it was freaking me out. So I scheduled an eye doctor appointment.
The verdict? Nearsightedness and a STRONG astigmatism. I would need glasses.
So I got them. And I put them on. And my whole world changed.
I saw detail I could not see before. Looking out the window at the trees in the distance, I could see individual branches, and not just the general “shape” of a treeline. On the drive home, I could see the texture of the roadway, and not just a gray “blur.” It was as if the whole world suddenly opened up to me. I went from sub-standard definition to full 4K resolution simply by putting the right lenses over my eyes.
How do you see the world?
I believe it is entirely possible to go through life thinking that we are seeing things clearly, without realizing that we do not. How we see the world is shaped by so many things.
- How we were raised as children – Does the word “father” resonate positively or negatively with us? We we loved?
- The pain of relationships – broken friendships, broken marriages, divorce.
- Broken trust – when people we once trusted hurt us.
- Depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.
Things like these alter our perceptions. A bad family life can lead us to believe that the concept of a healthy family is a lie. Broken friendships can make us believe that its’ just too risky to seek new ones because all people will hurt us. Depression and anxiety have an incredible ability to skew our perception of the world, where we can see it as a dangerous place to be avoided by crawling into our holes to survive.
We may have a skewed perspective of the world because we are looking through damaged lenses.
Sure, there is ugliness in the world. There are things no one wants to see. But when our vision is “off,” that ugliness is magnified and we fail to see the beauty that may be right in front of us. We may fail to see that real friendships are possible. We may fail to see that places that have wounded us – the workplace, the home, maybe even church – are not all the same.
Yet, so many of us never question our vision. Like the 18-year-old teenager I once was who needed glasses but did not know he needed them, we may think that we see the world normally. We may not realize that our vision is obscured.
We may have become so accustomed to seeing the world as we see it, that we cannot even imagine seeing it any other way.
The key is to recognize which lenses through which we see the world, and get it them fixed. Sometimes this can happen simply by acknowledging there may be a problem and being willing to consider that we are seeing things incorrectly. But for many of us, it may require long conversations and counseling with professionals to help us understand what has skewed our vision so we can re-adjust how we see the world.
But it must be done. As harsh as it may sound, getting our vision corrected is necessary if we want to ever thrive.
Because how we see the world determines how we choose to engage it.
Those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, in particular, are called to engage our world. We are called to love the world and share with it the good news that God loves people and has taken incredible steps to restore our relationships with him.
But if our vision is obscured – if we are driven by fear, mistrust, anger, and assumptions – then that will impact how – or even if – we choose to engage our world. Worse, we may even engage it in a negative way. Through gossip and Facebook posts and opportunities to lead others in some way, we may spread our skewed vision like a virus, leading others to mistrust and fear and hate. A “vision problem” can lead to disastrous consequences that impact far more people than just ourselves.
So we need to keep our vision in check. If you are straining to see the good in the world – in family, in friendships, in church – then it’s time to deal with what is throwing your vision off.
When our vision is normal and we can see the world the way Christ sees it, we can not only thrive in our own lives, but also impact those around us with the love of Christ.
If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves.
– Proverbs 29:18, The Message