Those of us who wear glasses know that the world looks very different depending on whether or not we have our glasses on. And they have to be OUR glasses. We can’t really see the world well through someone else’s prescription glasses.
Several years ago someone I know dropped their glasses into the water while out boating about a week before they were to have eye surgery. Being a practical person they didn’t want to spend the money for a new pair of glasses for only a few days use. They knew their prescription would change dramatically because of the planned surgery.
However, their pre-vision surgery was very poor and therefore their ability to effectively function was seriously compromised. They couldn’t drive and they couldn’t read, so even if they were able to get to their office they couldn’t actually do their work.
They were a member of a community organization that collected used eyeglasses for people who were in need of them, so they decided to see if they could find a pair among the donated glasses that might get them through the few days they would need them and then return them.
Amazingly they were able to find a pair that would work for them – sort of. The prescription in one lens was great. The other lens didn’t work so well. In fact, if they didn’t keep that eye closed when they were wearing the glasses they developed a terrible headache.
There is a lesson in there as we struggle through times of growing in understanding the lenses that those different from ourselves experience the world through.
Each of us comes to the table with a past filled with our own unique set of experiences. That doesn’t mean that one of us has the “right” experiences and the other has the “wrong” experiences. They are simply experiences and they are our own. These experiences in our life help form our ideas about what the world is like.
Our job is not to grab another’s glasses away and put them on ourselves. Our job is to listen to them as they tell us what they see through their glasses.
No matter how good our intent, we can’t see as they do through their glasses. But perhaps if we listen to them telling us what they see through their glasses, we can begin to notice and recognize their view through our glasses.
It is only when we can actually begin to see what the world looks like to another through our own glasses that we are changed and can truly empathize with another with a different prescription – a different perspective.
God has given us not only eyes to see, but ears to hear and hearts to love one another. When we use our eyes, ears and hearts to truly see another’s perspective we can reach out in love to those who we find very different from us.