About two weeks ago, I had a very special day. It was the one where I got my annual eye exam. For those who are blessed with perfect vision and do not know the wonder of going to the optometrist, let me tell you – joy and a half! You should be jealous because you’re really missing out!
I’m kidding….like all appointments where people poke and prod you it is a necessary burden…this one to make sure that I can see further than arm’s length in front of me. So of course, I try to put on the best attitude. But if you have never been, let me tell you a little bit about what goes on…
The front office ladies are super nice, pretty funny, and great at affirming you. The reason why is you go through various rounds of ancient dungeon torture. You get a couple puffs of air shot into your eye; you read of lines of letters that may or may not include muffled judgment if you get them incorrect. Retinal scan flashes where your eyelashes are no doubt in the way, and let’s not forget having to try to keep your focus on a fixed point while your eyes are watering up from the bright light the doctor is using to look at all the beautiful facets of your eyeball. Then, after all that, you get to sit in a chair to dial in your prescription from what these initial tests have told the doc.
To do that they stick your head in a contraption called a phoropter, which to me sounds like a Hammond special for the next Jurassic Park movie but looks like a contraption that aliens might use to control your brain. The optometrist uses a series of different lens pairs to focus on letters and you simply reply with which one of the two options presented are a clearer picture. The end goal is deriving the best prescription that you get to hang on to for a year until the torture starts all over again.
There were several years where my vision did not change but of course, to find that out I must go through the rigmarole of the eye exam. To be fair, it is all in the name of seeing the world around me, which is something I am on board with literally and metaphorically.
You see, going to the optometrist made me think how this might apply to other areas of my life, perhaps that need to be brought into focus.
Important Disclaimer: While I am all for examining my thoughts, attitudes, motivations and actions to be a better human, this must also be done with trusted, wise, and loving people beside you. In the same way that you would not let a foot doctor give your eye prescription, don’t let people who know nothing about your heart, mind or general day-to-day quirks try to diagnose your life.
And let’s be real, it is far too easy to let our own thoughts about ourselves shine as truth, the last thing we need is the snap judgments of others, who are all too quick to step up for the assignment of naming who you are based on their own motivations, to define us.
Truth be told, this is not the only, but still the biggest area of my life that needs adjustment – my recovering people pleaser syndrome. Particularly when it abuts my desire to love people, while loving myself well.
As a Christian, I want to love God and love people. I think there are habits from having grown up in abuse and growing up in faith at a pretty conservative Christian church that somehow informs “loving people” as letting the whims of others intrude or overtake the boundary of keeping myself safe from emotionally unhealthy, spiritually or physically abusive, and relationally toxic individuals.
In my life previous, I would go to all lengths to be liked and loved. I would do anything to dispel the idea that I was the mean one, the ungracious one, or that my natural RBF wasn’t the impression one should have of me. I would subject myself to harshness, pain, ridicule, and spending a crap ton of money to be accepted by others. In many ways, I convinced myself that this was what God wanted, for me to suffer through and give of myself so that others could feel love, even when I didn’t. Funny thing is that when my life went to absolute hell, all those people who I tried to please were not there to help me pick up the pieces when I needed it most. Nor did they actively help in the rebuilding process of who I am today.
In going through pain, losing so much in the process and being found broken before God, I was able to see truth. That no matter what my past may have looked like, the mistakes that I have made, or the things I may fail in – I am immensely loved by God.
And I think the consistent reminder to refocus on that defining moment when the end of that statement “I am immensely loved by God” did not end with a question mark, but with an exclamation mark! When I did not need to ask permission to be loved by God but claimed that I saw it with my own two eyes, in 20/20 vision, more vibrant than I ever have before.
What does that statement look/sound like for you? When you say, hear or speak that you are immensely loved by God, what thoughts, feelings or emotions are tied to it? Do you believe it? Moreover, does your belief in it cause you to love yourself enough to not have others define for you what you have seen to be true? And do you have people echoing truth to you when you can get off in your view.
My prayer for myself and also for you is that our perception about ourselves would be found true because we have gone through the process of looking at the various pictures and have said, ‘this one is more clear, allowing me to see clearly, not only myself, but others around me.” That we would not try to trip through life because we’ve never been given the right lens to view the world. A prescription that says you are loved, wanted, and worthy.
Until next time…Live as a Masterpiece!