As I get deeper into my forties, I’m actually growing old a lot more gracefully than I expected. Certainly more gracefully than anyone who witnessed my frantic approach to 30 imagined I would. Rather than dying my silver streaked hair, I’ve embraced my “crown of glory”. I’ve long loved a little sparkle, so why not in my mane? This season has also brought the benefit of a growing indifference to the criticism of others. This is especially evident in my wardrobe, which has morphed to include shorts, shift dresses, and tank tops- my chunky arms and legs exposed to daylight for the first time in decades.
Yet, I just can’t seem to “act my age” when it comes to my vision, y’all. You see, I’ve had prescription glasses for over 5 years. At first, I wore them. Kind of. At least, when they matched my outfit I did. You know, when I was trying to complete that “math-teacher-who-knows-how-to-let-loose” look. (Think messy bun, horn rimmed glasses, a cardigan and a labret piercing.) But then, I lost them. Then I lost another pair. And another. Then COVID hit and seeing long distance became a lot less important. Reading exit signs doesn’t matter so much when none of us are going anywhere anyway! What’s the point of corrective lenses? That is, until recently. After a few near death experiences driving the unfamiliar roads of Flagstaff this Summer (was that a stop sign!?!), I broke down and made a vision appointment. And then, last Thursday I got…well … um… uh… how do I say this?
I got a new pair of bifocals, guys. Bifocals. Emblem of cookie baking, mu’umu’u wearing grandmas everywhere. No, mine don’t have the classic chain to strap them round my neck yet but I suspect I’ll fall to that level any day now. After all, how many times can you lose your glasses only to finally find them askew in your sparkly hair an hour later?
You’d think I’d be pleased. Honestly, what’s not to love about improved vision? I can make my exit now that I can read street signs and, simply by looking down, I can read that itty bitty little cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. Win-win, right? But, the truth is, getting used to actually wearing my glasses habitually instead of exclusively for Facebook selfies (hey, they have sparkly rhinestones!) is going to take time and conscious effort.
My vision just feels so distorted. When I put them on, I swear my long distance vision has gotten worse! No matter how many times this theory is proven wrong by a quick glasses/no-glasses comparison of a distant sign, I can’t convince my brain that focused is better. I keep taking them off and wiping my shirt, hoping it’s just a clarity issue. It’s not a clarity issue. It’s never a clarity issue. My brain is messing with me. I can’t seem to determine how close to my face I need to hold my book in order to read comfortably. And then there’s the weird bifocal line edging a patch of blurred vision above or below, depending on where I’m looking. I feel like I’m falling into the floor as I walk, unsure how to navigate through the world. And the headaches! After a few hours of dull throb, I’ll set the glasses aside and forget about them. O blessed relief! That is, until my sweet husband finds them on an end table and dutifully returns them. Foiled!
Now, logically I know that if I’d just keep the darn things on, I would quickly adjust. Someday I’ll probably even look back on this week and laugh, smug in my hard-won acuity. But right here and now, the temptation is to stow my bifocals in a pillowcase, then feign ignorance when my husband wonders where they went. Glasses! What glasses?!? If the old way was blurry, at least it was familiar. And I can’t help but connect this to our practice of trusting Jesus.
I know God sculpted me and sculpted this world. Logically, I understand His way is the best way to live. Luckily, He’s provided scripture to counteract my natural farsightedness, handy for when I can’t see the things right under my nose. The Holy Spirit corrects my nearsightedness. Though I can’t see very far ahead, He knows the future. But my brain keeps playing tricks on me. The world just seems so different through the perspective of a Jesus follower. My own, unfiltered vision shows a very different view of so much of life. I can easily fall into treating my Christianity the way I’ve been treating my poor glasses. I can slip on those “trusting Jesus” lenses to match my Sunday best and come flouncing into church. Ooh la la! It’s easy to don them for a social media post or two, then lay them right back on my end table, forgotten. When peering through the lenses of scripture and the Holy Spirit doesn’t frame the world the way I’d hoped, I can conveniently lose them in the busyness of life until some dire circumstance sends me scrambling for a heavenly perspective.
And, just like with my bifocals, I am struggling to get in the rhythm of this trust thing. Some things are so clear, yet others seem strangely out of focus. It’s obvious that I should love others, abstain from lying and stealing, and give to the poor. And I so trust Jesus in that. But in other ways, the middle ground of life, I don’t always get complete clarity. As much as I might squint through scripture and tilt my head in prayer, many things never come into perfect focus. Should I take the job? What about rekindling that relationship? How do I handle my rebellious, hurting teen? And in those times, trust looks a lot like walking around in my bifocals. I pray about it. I read my bible. Then I take the next blurry step, fairly confident that, though it may feel like I’m falling through the floor, I am standing on solid ground. Each step I take gets a little more sure as I adjust to a godly perspective. Some day, I know, this viewpoint will be natural. I won’t struggle with blurry vision or a distorted viewpoint. Trusting Jesus will become so natural I’ll struggle to see life any other way. Hallelujah!
So, the next time you see me, compliment me on my new sparkling bifocals. And if, like my sweet husband, you notice I’m stumbling through life without my trust glasses on, help a sister out. Give me a nudge towards my scripture-Spirit bifocals. I’m determined to acclimate to the view. Someday I’ll have 20/20 vision, I know. For now, I’m acclimating to these lenses of trust.