A few weeks ago, after an eye appointment yielded an updated glasses prescription, I began my quest for new frames. I shopped at three stores (repeatedly) and tried on frame after frame after frame.
At last, I found glasses that were the right balance of current style, sufficient seriousness, and quirky accents. I ordered them and not-so-patiently awaited their arrival.
A few days later, I got the call. Excited to pick up my fun new frames, I hummed my way through the drive, tapping out a beat on the steering wheel. I strode into the store and said a jaunty hello to the person at the counter.
The guy located my order and handed it to me. I opened the case and pulled out the glasses. Smiling, I took off my old, scratched up glasses and put on the pristine new ones.
All at once, my mood shifted.
Actually, the whole landscape shifted. I was overcome by an instant wave of nausea, accompanied by the glimmer of a future headache.
See, here’s the thing: It had been at least three years since I’d had new glasses, and my eyes had changed a fair bit during that span of time. As awesome as the new glasses frames were, the new prescription was going to take some getting used to.
Granted, I saw everything more clearly with the new lenses. But my eyes also felt a bit drunk. My retinas reeled with the change, desperately trying to adjust, frantically searching for the familiar. As I tried to walk through the store like a normal person, my eyes sent SOS messages to my brain, begging me to take off the new glasses and switch back to the old.
“Just for a little while,” they pleaded. “It’ll be okay.”
But I refused, and continued walking about, holding myself steady and laughing at my disorientation.
It took a couple days to adjust to the new glasses. But I did. And the world is a clearer place to me now.
Come to think of it, God does this all the time. He points out an area where I’ve been seeing some aspect of the world all wrong, and offers me a new way to frame things—a new set of lenses, as it were.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said to those of old…but I say to you…” (Matthew 5, ESV) He’s offering new lenses to the crowd on the hill.
Paul tells the Christians in the city of Ephesus that he’s praying for the “eyes of [their] hearts” to be “enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18) so they’ll be able to see the truth of what God has for them. New lenses.
On the face of it, that sounds great. Why wouldn’t I want to see things more clearly, more truthfully? Why wouldn’t I want to look at the people and circumstances in my life more like God does? I’m in. That sounds like a great idea.
Until I slap on the new lenses and my world goes topsy-turvy. It’s not easy to adjust to a new way of seeing the world.
What if, for example, I’ve been looking at the landscape of my life through the lenses of my own logic or feelings or desires, and then I’m challenged to look at my life through other lenses? Lenses like…oh, maybe these:
Those values are great ways to frame my life, great lenses to look through. I’m convinced they’re a better prescription for me than the old glasses I’ve been wearing. And while I sit in the weekend services, listening to the teaching on each of Flatirons’ core values, I get pretty excited about wearing those values myself.
But listen. As right as these lenses are, they take some getting used to. Truth in advertising: If you commit to wearing these new glasses, if you commit to valuing these values yourself, you will experience some side effects—for longer than you wish you would. You will likely feel disoriented, out of sorts, frustrated—especially if it’s been a while since your prescription has been adjusted.
There will be days when everything inside you will plead for you to switch back to your old glasses. “Let’s ditch biblical authority,” your emotions will beg (for example). “Just for a little while. It’ll be okay.”
But if you’re convinced that, in the end, you will see the world more clearly and more truly by looking through these lenses, well…keep the new glasses on. Keep walking. Steady yourself as needed and, if you’ve got it in you, laugh at your own disorientation.
It’ll take some time. But your eyes will adjust.
Kirsten teaches at Colorado Christian University. She’s attended Flatirons for six years, and facilitates groups at Shift on Friday nights.