"Who do I look like, Mom? You or Dad?" she asked. "I think you look quite a bit like Dad did when he was your age," I said. To which she replied, " Why do I have to look like Dad, I want to look like you!" It's this last sentence in our conversation that has me considering the lens through which we view ourselves.
I was trying to answer her question as accurately as I could. It is true that she looks very much like her Dad when he was her age, but it is also true that she has my eye and hair color. I suppose I could have been more specific and pointed out which features she shared with each parent, but I didn't. It's the difference between really paying attention to detail and just taking a glance.
The words "I want to look like you!" really took me by surprise especially since my girl and I have very different styles. She's made it known in prior conversations that she doesn't want to be "plain" like me. I never let it offend me, I want her to be herself and I have been called "plain" many times before. Her words made me think about the lens through which I have viewed myself. In that moment I realized that the lens she currently views me through is different than the one that I view myself through. I view myself through the lens of "plain". Then I began to wonder when did that become my lens? Was it always my lens or was it handed to me by others through their words?
More often than not we tend to view ourselves through the words of others. Words are a kind of lens. The words that others offer us can encourage us, help us grow in the strengths that we already have, and inspire us to greatness. They can also tear us down, make us feel inadequate, and deprive us from dreaming big because we think we are only mediocre. Words can be general and words can be specific. General words are the words we use when we are viewing ourselves or others at a glance. Specific words are the ones we use when we are paying attention to detail.
After pondering all of this, I realized how my words give my daughter a lens through which to view herself and it scares me. It scares me because I know that the only lens I want her to see herself through is God's lens. His is the only one that matters because it is the most accurate. Here I sit typing about God's lens being the only one that matters for my daughter...and this mother is the one who needs the reminder! This must be the reason God gave me kids, to bring Him into focus!
If words are a kind of lens through which we view ourselves, then what does God's Word say about us? If we belong to Him, what does He see when He looks at us? How is the way He sees us different than the way we see ourselves? Here are some things that come to mind as I think about this: All-knowing God, looks at us through the eyes of unconditional love. He knows our failures and imperfections, yet He looks at us and loves us anyway. He knows our brokeness but when He looks at us, He sees us whole. He knows the ugliness of our sins but when He looks at us, He sees our purity. God views us through the lens of eternity. He sees who we were, who we are now, who we are becoming, and who we will be all at the same time. If we were to be honest, we'd have to admit that our lens and God's lens are very different. The lens through which we view ourselves is probably most like the lens of a microscope. A microscope focuses on one thing and magnifies it until it's big enough to see in great detail. Isn't that what most of us do with our flaws and the flaws of others? How do we change this?
The only way to change this is to ask God to help us to see ourselves and others through His lens. After we have exchanged our lens for His, our view will be more accurate and so will the words that we speak to ourselves and to others. Instead of zooming in on imperfections, we will see through the lens of God's love. God's love sees the whole picture. I don't know about you, but I want to make a conscious effort to look through God's lens. I know that doing so will provide me with His words of life, love, and hope for myself and others.