Looking at the World Through a Broken Lens

I’m sure many of us have experienced a broken or smudged lens at least once in our lifetimes. If it wasn’t a pair of eye glasses, it may have been attached to a camera. It’s an annoying experience, isn’t it?

You’re using that lens because you need to see something clearly. Such as what you’re reading or where you’re going. The purpose of a photograph is to catch a fleeting moment you likely will never see again. Taking time to clean or replace a lens often means you will miss it.

But there is one lens which should matter to all of us. Sometimes, it’s also called our internal compass. Actually, they are two separate things and one informs the other. Just ask the seafaring folk of old who didn’t have GPS on a cell phone. You need both tools in order to reach your destination. With a dirty or broken lens, your compass can’t function properly. (Hey, that is doubly true for all those satellites we now rely on. They are equipped with both, you know.)

Let’s take a look at the moral compass. It’s really the only one we possess. Who are we allowing to influence our lens? Are they smudging or distorting it? If we are allowing others to touch our lens, who? Do you truly know who they are or understand their motivations for “informing” your lens?

The hardest part of using a clean lens is when we turn it on ourselves and take a deeper look at who we really are. It’s the very rare person who takes an honest look at themselves and comes away feeling that they are already perfect. The most annoying thing about achieving perfection? You can’t obtain it on your own, and it is pretty much a given few of us will even come close to achieving it during our lifetimes. (Yes, that includes me.)

I mentioned in my last post, who influenced me. My mom was a quiet person who tried to overcome her insecurities through a really good friend. Because he was her friend, she would never dream of misrepresenting his true character, in public or private. She met this friend as an adult, after she married and had two kids. (I was four at the time.) She doesn’t seem like the kind of person whose life would end by suicide, does she? I’m still not certain that’s exactly what happened. I live more than 1,000 miles away from where she did. During the last month and a half she was with us, I found myself fighting a growing sense of unease each time I spoke with her. My heart literally broke during our last conversion two days before she died.

Since I was too far away to do anything in person, I told her at the end of that conversation I was still there for her, despite any wrongs she thought were committed against me during my lifetime. I promised I would keep checking on her. The next morning when I called, I got someone else. Someone who should have been profoundly concerned over her state of mind. Instead, he blew me off. His way of trying to reassure me? “There’s nothing to worry about. She’s only been going off the deep end for a while.”

I wish I could say his attitude surprised me. Only, throughout my life, my lens had been under the influence of my mom’s very good friend. I never had a difficult time identifying this person’s true character, because he often subjected me to it with snide remarks and put downs. He had the same opportunity my mom did, to be included in the special friendship. It’s the best kind of threesome, after all. Instead, he allowed jealousy to keep him from something truly meaningful, because he was self-centered and believed he was no longer the center of her world. After all, he was the hot, popular guy who settled for the quiet, shy girl who didn’t think she was pretty. She spent more than 50 years with him. The entire time she tried to bring him into that special friendship. Her reward for it was a lifetime of mockery and disrespect.

Even so, my mom still reached out to others and made it clear her special friendship was never exclusive. She loved everyone, no matter where they came from or what mistakes they made during their lifetimes. Always, always with a spirit of humility. Which is the true reason I still love her, despite the grief and lack of understanding why I lost her the way I did. I admired her so very much for the way she represented her special friend. Because I didn’t think I had the courage to do the same. What hurt me the most, during our last conversation was when she said “My life’s not right with God.”

From that moment on, the Holy Trinity and I have had to do some hardcore relationship rebuilding. I seriously questioned if my entire life had been a lie. To say I have been angry is something of an understatement. What really happened? Someone finally managed to break the lens which allowed my mom to clearly see her special friend. In the process, he shattered mine too.

The whole reason I’m uncomfortable with the notion of building my brand? It’s not really mine to build, not if I claim to have a special friend. Yes, that friend is Jesus. I’m not ashamed of him. In fact, I don’t call myself a Christian. (There’s a “branding” issue there.) The master lens maker is my friend. For the past 4 ½ years, he’s been quietly rebuilding my lens. I’ve recently discovered he gifted me with the clearest, most beautiful wide lens; whose colors and clarity will never be matched by anything I could ever make on my own.

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