I always hated the color of my eyes.
Growing up, I had the tendency to be insecure and self-deprecating. I scrutinized every feature, every part of me I deemed sub-par. I despised that I wasn’t naturally skinny and defined like 99% of the guys I was acquainted with. I abhorred that no girl ever seemed as attracted to me as they did to my best friend, who was one of the aforementioned naturally skinny and defined guys in my life. And, oh, how I spent many nights lamenting over the fact that my eyes reflected a Walmart toilet bowl rather than the windswept sea or the towering trees. I studied every part of my life under a microscope – my appearance, my personality, my likes and dislikes.
The thing is, though – and it took me a long time to learn this – we don’t always see things clearly on our own.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12
Let’s think about the author of this statement for a second. This is the apostle Paul speaking to the church at Corinth. I won’t dive too deep into the context surrounding the verse, but I want to point out something that I believe too often goes unnoticed. And that is this: have you ever realized that, just maybe, Paul – the historical, groundbreaking apostle and father of the First Church – just maybe, he was insecure?
Let’s think about this. Paul was infamous for his persecution of the Church. He killed believers, threw them in prison, ruined their lives. Then, all of a sudden, he undergoes a transformation and is thrown headfirst as a leader into the very world he spent so many years trying to destroy. Paul later self-identifies as, in a letter to one of his mentees, “the chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Do you think that, maybe, he felt unworthy? Do you think that, when surrounded by people who’ve served God faithfully for most of their lives, he felt insecure and maybe a little guilty? Do you think he felt like an outcast every time he stepped up to the pulpit to preach a message of conviction and edification to a church full of Christians older than he? Do you think that he read and reread his epistles over and over again because he was afraid how he, the “chief of sinners”, might come across?
But then, we see Paul say this to the church at Corinth and maybe, just maybe, he’s saying it to himself to. Maybe 1 Corinthians 13:12 is not just a message of hope for the church, but a message of hope and a reminder for himself too. Maybe Paul needed to remind himself every now and then that we don’t always see the things in our lives clearly. And, one day, we’ll see these things as clearly as God sees us.
As God sees us.
Sometimes, it takes someone else – a stranger, a friend, a significant other, or God – to change the way we perceive ourselves.
I remember when I was dating my (now ex) girlfriend. We were talking and I mentioned how I hated the color of my eyes. But she just paused and said something to the affect of, “I love your eyes. They’re chocolate eyes.”
Immediately, I kind of leaned back and said, “Huh.” I’d never looked at it that way. In an instant, my perception of a part of myself completely transformed. No longer do I avoid the reflection of my eyes in the mirror. Instead, I savor them. I admire them. The eyes have always been my favorite feature of the human body and now I can think about mine as I’m sure God thinks about them.
It’s amazing how one word, one statement, from another person can completely shift your perception. In an instant, you stop thinking about yourself as having crappy eyes (pardon the pun), and start thinking about them as chocolate. You stop thinking about those few pounds of extra fat that cling to you like peanut butter and start thinking of yourself as having a “dad bod” as we hipsters call it.
One word of encouragement, one uplifting conversation, can mean the difference between insecurity and confidence. Do not neglect the edification of others because, to them, it could change their entire world. To them, it could mean chocolate eyes.