For a few weeks I’ve been walking around in a bit of a blur, trying out new no-line trifocal eyewear. These are progressive lenses, which is a new thing for me. They said it would take some getting used to. I don’t remember anyone telling me life would be blurry and distorted.
As long as I look straight ahead, everything is sharply focused and these new glasses work fine. But if my eyes move a quarter inch to the left or right, reality is lost. I am trying to learn to move my head and not my eyes. Until I do, I’m probably not a safe driver.
Even looking straight on, something is not quite right. Looking down into a drawer full of folded clothes, I see a curved front where I know is a perfectly flat, unwarped piece of cabinetry. I have had to take my glasses off a couple of times to make certain.
As I realize changing lenses changes my perspective, I’ve thought about why sometimes two people can look at the same situation and draw different conclusions. Perhaps it’s the lenses we have to look through.
If a kid grows up in a family that is fearful of the police, he will have a distorted view of law enforcement. A child molested by a trusted family member may have a warped outlook on love. A person wounded by unthinking or uncaring religious congregations is surely going to think less of the church. And a young person who hasn’t experienced much life at all, is naïve.
Even when we know a thing, our psyche can have warped or unhealthy reactions and interactions. We can’t easily “take off the glasses” we’ve been programmed to see through.
My lenses also automatically darken in bright sunlight. It can then take a couple of minutes for them to lighten back up indoors. My brain knows this because I’ve worn photochromic lenses for several years. That doesn’t keep me from having a brief thought, “It sure is dark in here,” when walking into a new place. I forget, just for a few seconds, that my lenses have distorted reality. I will then sometimes say out loud, “My glasses made me think it was dark in here.” Saying it reinforces it more than simply having a thought.
I am aware my life perspective is influenced by my upbringing, my life experiences (good and bad) and even by choices I’ve made. I try to keep all that in mind when reacting to people and events.
It’s not always easy, when my eyes tell me the line is curved, for my brain to overrule and convince me it is a straight line in front of me. Sometimes I have to say out loud, “I know that line is not curved.”
I usually give grace to others when I see them reacting in a wrong way to people and events. I can only hope the same grace will be extended to me. After all, not everyone has had the beneficial experience of wearing progressive, transitional trifocals.
I’ve come to realize years ago the truth of what you’ve written, Janet. Its simple to spot a “warped perspective ” in others, but certainly more difficult (and humbling) to admit that reality exists in ourselves, as well. As a parent (and 7-time grandparent now!), I am still keenly aware of how my parenting skills and expectations, for example, are shaped by my own upbringing. Some methods I keep, some I’m still weeding out. I have to extend God’s grace to my own parents (particularly my father, God rest his soul) for certain methods and ideologies that they used exclusively — appropriate, abusive — or not. Yet it’s all THEY knew and learned from THEIR parents. Ahh– we pass down the distorted glasses, after all! Thank You, Lord, for Your grace, forgiveness, wisdom, and for renewed perspectives.
Thanks for your insightful comment, Becky. It’s all about grace!