But the man who looks intently in the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.James 1:25.
Four hours at the Pacific Science Center and we aren’t done exploring. In the familiar motion, I pull my phone from my pocket. A text from the friends we’re meeting flashes.
“C’mon guys. I know, it’s cool, but we gotta go.” I step closer to the doors.
The kids overshoot the door, drawn by the magnetism of the bubble trough.
I sigh. My left arm is sticky with sweat from the added layers. I am holding two extra coats. I shift them to my right arm. My pulse quickens. The stress of trying to herd cats – er, my children – while people are waiting for us. I internally wonder how forceful my next words to the kids should be. We are on vacation, after all. Our friends understand.
Preoccupied, I walk past a fun house mirror.
From the corner of my eye, I see my head distortedly large.
Now, I am distracted. I turn, take a step back to face the mirror head on. There I am, same jacket, pants. But everything is out of proportion. My torso is comically short. My legs elongated.
The coats I’m holding are experiencing the same treatment: small in my arm, but a sleeve that has escaped trails, exaggeratedly long below my elbow. I look down, confirming what I know: the coats are the same size as before. 4T, 8T. The mirror changed what I see.
The science is explained in a plaque beside the mirror. The mirror is wavy. It’s contours twist the light rays so they bounce back to my eyes at odd angles.
The haphazard light rays distort perspective. I see myself – but not as I am.
The next day, on our long ride home back to Montana, the kids ask again why they can’t have a phone. They want internet access so they can play a math video game.
Our explanation of temptation and self-control and comparison and as-parents-right-now-we-are-just-setting-your-boundaries are met with eye rolls, silliness and loud whining.
One of them fastens on a word: “What’s distort mean, mom?”
Clipping along through the mountains of Snoqualmie pass, I can’t access my data plan. Knowing what a word means and defining it are always difficult for me. Especially after sleeping in a hotel bed for three nights.
I take a stab at it: “It means that you see things, but not as they really are. Things get blown out of proportion.” Not sure they all know what “proportion” means, I remember the moments before we finally stepped out the door of the science museum, ‘”it’s like the fun-house mirror yesterday. It distorts the way you look. You see yourself, and some of it’s the same, but some of it’s not. Some of it’s wrong.”
“Oh, yeah. Phones don’t do that, mom.”
Knowing logic won’t win this debate, I tell them: “I love you too much to argue.”
And then I offer them some snacks.
“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”2 Corinthians 10:12
The thing we use to view ourselves can either reflect us back to ourselves realistically – or it can distort.
Addressing the church in Corinth for the second time, Paul explained to them that his dissenters committed grave error when they commended themselves.
They measured and compared themselves against a faulty mirror.
But, it wasn’t just Paul’s opponents two-thousand years ago.
In unguarded moments of pride and weakness, can’t we all pull out the mirror of human comparison to gauge our identity and worth?
This mirror takes our achievements, intentions and actions, twists them in the air, and presents them back to us distorted.
Fun-house mirror style.
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.Mark 8:25.
A few days later, I am washing dishes. Hot, soapy water. Hands pruning. I crank the podcast to hear over the running water.
The musician talks about one of Jesus’ repeated miracles: healing the blind. It physically happened, but it’s metaphor too. “When our perspective is off we don’t see people the way they are – we see them the way we are…that’s one of the first things the enemy jumps all over is our perspective.”
And that’s it. I have studied the Bible my entire adult life. Dissected. Memorized. Searched. Yet, all too easily, I can still default to other mirrors to examine myself or my achievements. I can stare intently into just one part of the perfect law that gives life and walk away, forgetting what I have seen, not doing what it has said.
My perspective is skewed.
And, that skewed perspective effects the way I see other people. My children. My husband. Friends. The internet.
I see them the way I see myself: distorted.
And, my distorted perspective keeps us from authentic relationship.
The One who knit me together in my mother’s womb, the One who spoke the stars into the night sky – He sees it all perfectly. He sees me all perfectly. He sees others all perfectly.
Seeing perfectly, He shrugged out of His power and glory and became vulnerable. He gave Himself to us as a small human baby, wholly dependent . He grew into a teacher that touched the dirty, broken and ugly.
We all know where His beautiful words and actions landed Him.
But, we also know that He didn’t stay there.
I find Timothy Keller’s summation of the gospel helpful here: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Jesus, heal my sight. God, lay bare the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. Spirit, be my vision.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked.
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34.
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One thought on “Perspective”
It was great to see you that day. I can totally relate to all you dealt with! Finally catching a moment here, and my breath. One semester of grad school down (phew). Now to focus on the real meaning of Christmas!!