If we ask, God will always help us see things things clearly. He recently did this for me — ironically, through photography.
Most of you know I love taking pictures. I especially love using different lenses to capture different looks. It’s crazy how one person can look drastically different in the same scene, depending on what lens you’re looking through.
Recently, God put it on my heart that that’s exactly how we humans go through life.
Let me explain.
In photography you can use a variety of lenses: a standard lens, a zoom lens, a fisheye lens, a macro lens, a tilt shift lens, or a wide angle lens, to name a few.
A standard lens looks at things similarly to how the naked eye would see them.
A zoom lens, though, looks at something more closely even when you’re far away. And isn’t that how some people view others? They’re not close to the person but yet they still like to zero in on them from a distance.
A fisheye lens makes the center of the image bulge so that everything looks like it is in a bubble. It’s totally distorted (like my face in this picture). And isn’t that also how some people view others? They focus on just one part of a person or a situation (not the whole thing), and they magnify that one part so that the “big picture” becomes totally distorted.
A macro lens looks at very small things very closely and with great detail. Things not usually seen by the naked eye. For example, each little hair on a caterpillar. Or, say, each little minor flaw of a person.
A tilt shift lens can be tilted up or down making things look more dramatic (taller or shorter) than they really are. I’m sure we all know a few folks who see life through a tilt shift lens. Their molehill always looks like a mountain.
A wide angle lens spans everything in a large scene, not focusing on one thing, but everything. And isn’t that how some people view life around them? They only look at the vast landscape of life and never notice (or appreciate) the little things it’s comprised of.
That’s not to mention how each of these scenes change still more when you add a filter to the lens. Some filters can increase the amount of contrast in an image. Some filters can even adjust the colors. For example, a blue filter really enhances the color of the sky or water. Other filters block some of the light that enters the lens.
While thinking about all of this, God explained to me that each of us looks at life through our own unique lens. It’s our perception of the world and people around us. It’s unique to us because each of us tends to see things through the lens of our own past experiences, hurts, traumas, etc.
What’s more, things are sometimes even further distorted by the filters of our feelings — our fears, insecurities, and anxieties that result from those experiences.
For example, things can look more dismal when our fears block out some of the light. They can seem more “blue” when colored by insecurity.
The Good Lord explained all of this to me because I was struggling to understand why some people have such a distorted perception of reality. I couldn’t understand how some people can cause so much hurt and not see it. Or worse, feel justified in it.
But THIS is how.
At one point they probably did see things as they truly are. They perceived everything through a standard lens. But, over time, they began to experience hurt, betrayal, abandonment… and to protect themselves, they started to swap out the lens.
They started to see things in a different way and react to the over-magnified details, disproportionate truths, and dramatic viewpoints.
I think this is why gossip is such a problem. What one person tells another person might seem true to them… but oftentimes it’s because that’s what they actually see through the lens of their experience and the filter of their feelings.
And instead of looking at the situation ourselves, we look at it through that person’s distorted lens. We believe their truth. In no time, gossip causes the perception of many people to become skewed. How quickly we forget that there really are two sides (two lenses) to every story.
God explained to me that, sometimes, we struggle with people because, to us, it seems like they’re trying to deceive everyone. But actually, they’re the ones who are deceived. They just don’t know it. They don’t know the lens of their life has distorted everything. They just see what they see.
So how do you make peace with that? How do you move forward when it seems everyone around you is looking at you through a fisheye?
God had an answer for that, too.
You pray for them. You pray for their healing. You pray that the wounds which have distorted the lens of their life be made new in Jesus. Only then will they come to see the way, the truth, and the life as it truly is.
And here’s the kicker. The Lord also reminded me that before I try to take that zoom lens from a brother’s eye, I should “focus” on the fisheye lens in mine. (Matthew 7:3-5)
I think the real truth is that none of us see clearly. That’s a kind of vision reserved for Heaven.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)