The lens through which we see life is formed early in our lives. We pick up the attitudes of our parents and all they try to teach us. We absorb the cultural goals for us. We see through the attitudes of our peers in school and whether we are accepted or not. The pain and suffering in our lives also form the lens through which we see life. As we grown into adulthood, all these experiences solidify our own personal lens through which we see and assess and judge and welcome or push away everything that happens to us. Our personal lens can greatly restrict how we see others, affect what we consent to or not, color the truth to how we want it to be and so much more.
Our self-image is often formed through the reactions and opinions of others about us, especially our parents. We learn to be impatient with how we are and how we do things. We wish we were like someone else. Or that we could do or be in another way. This is probably the hardest part of our lens to overcome.
Our inability to see what is real and true is probably the biggest effect our personal lens has on our life. We celebrate those who agree with us and feel confident in our opinions when others share them. We avoid or ignore those who don’t agree with us. And there we are safely encircled and confident that we are right. The facts don’t matter as much as our attitudes and opinions do. So we can live in a state of unreality.
We can form opinions about other people just by the way they dress or their race or other superficial means without getting to know who they really are. We can miss the richness of knowing a lot of different kinds of people, whether they agree with us or not, and fail to find out maybe why their lens is so different from ours. Our lens can blind us to so many things. I was talking to a woman the other day whose husband was regretting that he had never studied engineering. And she said to him, “Why don’t you go back to school?” And he responded,” It’s too late, I’m just turning 40.” His lens on life was telling him that he should ignore a desire he had had for a long time, because it was too late.
And that’s where our personal lenses can dampen our natural talents and abilities; we can choose the “prevailing wisdom” instead of something that is so natural to us. We dampen our own desires to fit into the cultural norm. And we can’t imagine what joy there would be when we are doing things that totally serve our own inclinations. We choose what is safe and acceptable, instead of what is most natural to us.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be growing into our created selves, into what God created us to be and to do, as we grow into our love for Him. We are to be developing a lens on the world and the people in it that is true and embracing, forgiving and merciful, just like Jesus’s lens on us. If we are still thinking the way we have always thought and doing what we’ve always done, we are not following Jesus. It is in our interactions with Him and His suggestions to us that we follow, that we begin to see the limitations of our personal lenses, of the culture we grew up in, of our family’s attitudes and points of view, which have limited who we are and who we can be. Jesus will reveal our truer selves and our purpose in life and how we are to accomplish it. And in His healing and transformation that takes place in us, we begin to experience real joy as we express who we really are, not the momentary happiness that our culture would have us seek in material things.
As our lens grows and expands to see things in truth and love, then we are seeing as Jesus sees. We are seeing other people for who they are and what each has to offer. We no longer live in judgment of others. We are seeing the way the world is and the way God wants it to be. We are seeing our purpose and how we are to achieve it. And we are living in peace and joy and love, because we are no longer attached to the world’s ways. Thanks be to God!