Squinting and Sunglasses and Thoughts on Lenses [Thankfulness]

My mother is very wise. One of the best pieces of advice she gave to me was when I was in elementary school. We were walking across the parking lot towards the grocery store. It was a sunny day. When we were about to cross the road right in front of the store, she looked down at me and said -- I'll never forget it -- "Don't squint like that."

I shot her a questioning look, which wasn't much different than the squinty look I already was wearing.

"Don't wrinkle your nose when you squint."

"What?" I asked, my nose still wrinkled.

"Squint with your eyes, not your nose."

I'll never forget that wise advice. I can just imagine the wrinkle lines I would have today if I had kept squinting with my nose.

Thanks, Mom.
Still, squinting with my eyes for too long gives me a headache, so I always have a pair of sunglasses nearby. Except that sometimes I can't find my sunglasses. I've forgotten where I've laid them or my daughter has borrowed them. I always have an extra pair close by just in case I need them. Tucked in the glove-box, in the console, in the extra purse, in my husband's car, in the pantry, on my nightstand. You never know when you are going to need sunglasses so you don't have to squint.

Me and my shades.

One pair of my sunglasses makes everything I look at a little bluish. Another pair turns everything sepia, like the old western photo that we posed for when we were visiting the Black Hills and we weren't supposed to smile. 

Adjusting to the different colors with each different pair of sunglasses reminds me of the idiomatic rose colored glasses worn by the eternally optimistic. It reminds me of how everything we see is seen through our own lenses. 
We're seeing the same thing that other people see, we just have different lenses on. 

What would it look like in my communication if I realized that the misunderstanding might simply be caused by looking through different lenses. What if I tried to see things through the other person's lens? What life experiences have they had that might make them see things a little differently than me? Would I be more compassionate, more understanding, more gracious? More loving?

What if our lenses were attitudes? What would it look like if I chose to see things through a thankfulness lens? What if
"I'm so sad that I had to move away from there" became "I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to live there"? What if I found something, anything, to be thankful for in the middle of a bout of depression, even if it were just "I'm thankful for Your presence, God, because although I can't feel it right now, I know it's there." 

In Psalm 50:23 God says,
"he who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Could it be that my sacrificial thanks -- when I decide to find something to be thankful for even when I don't feel like it -- actually prepares the way for God to save? To save me from my anger? To save others?

Seeing things through a lens of thankfulness transforms the way I see things, the way I think about things, the way I respond when things happen. The apostle Paul writes that we really don't need to be anxious about anything. Instead, he says, we need to be thankful as we pray and seek God regarding that thing. When we do that, God will give us a peace about the situation that is so amazing it can't be explained (Phil 4:6-7). That's what thankfulness lenses can do. 

We used to take college baseball players to Alfred, New York to play on a team there in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. One of the players ordered a pair of Oakley sunglasses with yellow lenses.
"Check this out," he said to me. "When it's cloudy out, these lenses make it look brighter." I tried them on and sure enough, everything was bright yellow, even on that dark, cloudy day.

That's what thankfulness lenses can do. They make cloudy days sunny.


Amy said...

I'm a sunglasses fan, too. Even on cloudy days (though your nightstand comment cracked me up:), which apparently could brighten things in the right way. Such good ideas here. I appreciate your taking such abstract thoughts and transferring them to the concrete here. Helps me. Also, Phil. 4 got me through all three births as well as a lot of other stuff. Loved perspective of "I'm grateful I had the opportunity to live here." Do you want to know something~when you lived near me my first conscious memory of seeing you was at TJ Maxx. I must have recognized you from church, but I hadn't officially met you yet. So, I was too shy. But, I thought we'd probably connect well. I'm grateful you lived in this particular place for the season you did, and that we did get to connect, and that there's things like blogs and eternity to remind me connections aren't all about where we live right now. Going to go put on my sunglasses now:) Oh! sorry to write a book, but one more thing. When I'd get a cold as a girl I pushed a tissue to my nose scrunching it up. My mom relentlessly encouraged me to stop, which worked just in time I guess. Can you imagine our noses without wise Moms?!

Anne said...

I'm glad my abstract thoughts are helpful to you. I guess you either are going to read me and go "where the heck is she going?" or you are going to read me and get it. I'm glad you get it. And, of course you do because we're both TJ Maxx people. If ever there was a sign that 2 people would connect!

I, too, appreciate blogs for allowing us to be closer friends while farther apart. I was thinking of KC when I wrote that, although I've moved so much that it could have been anywhere. But KC was so special, and so very brief. I wish we didn't have to have moved away. But I am grateful that we got a chance to live there in the first place. And connect with you over TJ Maxx.

I am so glad your mom told you to stop scrunching your nose like that. I think you'd better post a picture of you doing that so that we all can appreciate how wise your mom is too. :)


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