3 a : the act or power of seeing : sight
What shapes my vision? The good experiences I've had or the bad ones? While our experiences doubtless influence us, at some level, I can choose how to see things and people. I can put on glasses that let me view the world through a prism of the painful things I've experienced or I can choose to see the world through the healing I've experienced.
J and I are a few days behind in watching Lost, so last night we watched the most recent episode. It's been striking to me how closely I have identified with the various characters' brokenness this season. In the most recent episode, I tried not to identify with Benjamin Linus. I didn't want to change my image of him and I certainly didn't want to empathize with him, but by the end of the episode, I felt like he was me (the same way, I might add, I felt two weeks ago about Jack Shephard and a bit less so about Sayid last week). I think I relate so much to Ben and Jack because they have fathers that fail them - and they are shaped by that. It influences the way they see their world and others.
My own experiences certainly shape the way I see others. Depending on the day, I might be judgmental of someone who struggles with something I have experienced and overcome or I might have compassion towards them, remembering the challenge that it was for me. I don't always want to see others with a vision of compassion because it reminds me of my own pain and asks me to walk through it again. That's something I would prefer not to do - for Jack Shephard, Ben Linus or a real, live friend. I prefer to see their capabilities, their skills, their gifts - and perhaps, in a weak moment, use them to recriminate myself for not being more like them - more whole, less broken. Seeing other broken people reminds me of how broken I am.
But maybe I am at my best - or most authentic - when I am willing to be broken. Maybe when I don't hide behind my cool white sunglasses, others are able to see themselves reflected in my eyes. Maybe when I see them clearly, they know they are being seen - and maybe that makes them feel normal, known, even loved. And if I have to use a compassionate form of vision to do this - one that leaves me vulnerable in both seeing and being seen - maybe that is worth it.
Even more importantly, if I will train my vision to be one of compassion, maybe I will be able to see myself not as I think I am or think I should be, but as I was made to be. Because sometimes my vision of myself could use more compassion and less judgment.