A Beautiful Lens
The other day after Mass I was speaking with an adorable older couple, as we began to part the wife asked me when I was due. Sigh, yes, I have put on some weight since Covid, but I don’t think I look pregnant… My immediate response though was to laugh and say, “this is just Oreo’s”. The husband was very upset about the perceived insult and apologized. I again laughed and said, “insult? Your wife just told me she thought I was young enough to be pregnant, that my friend is a compliment.” I repeated the story throughout the day and laughed each time. My sister told me it was interesting how I saw it in a different way and great that I was able to see it in a positive light.
That experience made me think, of how we see the world. A few years ago, when I had 4 children under the age of 7, my husband brought me a beautiful camera for Christmas. It was a gorgeous machine, complete with multiple lenses. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I was used to the point and shoot – don’t think about anything- camera. This was a creature from another planet. I took pictures for a week, and they were all awful. I read the manual, and tried again, still awful. It was like learning a new language and at that point in my life (4 little ones) I was not up to the task of learning a new language. So, the camera went back, and an easier point and shoot camera took its place. There were a few lessons that I did take away from that experience; one was I realized that the lenses made a huge difference in how you saw what was in front of you. How you adjusted the lens and the amount of light you let in made all the difference in the outcome of the photo.
St. Paul was righteous in what he thought he saw. He saw Jews that he felt were not being faithful to God and needed to be eradicated. Until one day when he saw a bright light and encountered Jesus. He went from being a persecutor of early Christians to one of the greatest champions our faith has ever had. Why the change? It was the lens. It was when he lost his physical sight that he came to see clearly. When his sight returned, St Paul was a different man. I notice that we all see the same picture, but we all walk away with a different perspective based on the lens we view it through. I called my friends to ask how a work event had gone. Two of them gushed about how the day was beautiful, how much fun they had and all the highlights, the other one could only convey how hot, sticky and miserable the day was.
A few years ago, I read a book that helped me to change my lens to one of gratitude. (The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom) The story is about a Christian family that was put in the concentration camps in Germany. How their faith was able to affect their experience and change the dynamic of the bunk they were assigned to. I had never heard of anyone speaking about the beauty to be found in the midst of the ugliest time in world history. It was all in her lens. At first, she didn’t see it but after a while she began to see that even amid adversity one person could shine God’s light and it could become contagious to the point that everyone can see it too.
Sometimes how we see the world is through a lens that is dirty, cracked, and distorted by our past experiences. Let’s challenge ourselves to look at our surroundings not as we see them but as God does. God sees through a lens of love and compassion. His gaze does not linger on the sin but on the great beauty He has placed into your soul. An exercise I recently learned was to ask Holy Spirit, “what is the lie that I believe about this situation”, and then wait for the answer. The next question is just as important. “Holy Spirit what is the truth you want to replace that lie with.” I have always been blown away by the simplicity and truth of each of the answers.
I challenge you to take a good look at your lens remove any obstacles that prevent you from seeing clearly. Remember the plank of wood Jesus spoke about? Matthew 7 v 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Then after checking for these obstacles look again but this time ask Jesus to help you see with His compassionate gaze.
May your gaze always linger on the beauty of what God has placed in each one of us.