The lens we use

Originally Appeared in : 9909-4/25/19

A few years ago, one of my brothers decided to stop drinking alcohol. It was a personal choice which he explained as “wanting to see the world through that lens” — the lens of sobriety. My brother had gotten tired of drinking a few beers at every event he attended, and then waking up feeling bad or tired or (worst of all) worried about something he had said the night before.


The experiment started as a short-term endeavor and was life-changing for him. He didn’t really know what the benefits would be, and he didn’t have a plan to make it a forever decision. The results were so profound for him that he started doing it day after day. A decision to give it a try yielded fruit and results that he didn’t see coming. Not drinking alcohol works really well for him, for a variety of reasons.


I’ve always loved the idea of seeing the world “through that lens” — whatever lens it is we happen to use. For my brother, the freedom he’s found from not having beer far outweighs the delicious taste of amber grains. He’s able to sort through emotions and have a better grip on anxiety and fatigue by just not drinking. It was a solution to issues he almost didn’t realize he had.


It was so striking to me, and I’ve since thought about the lens that I use to see the world around me. What ideas and variables impact the way I see things; what impacts how I look at the events that shape my life?


Do I see things through past hurts, through my wounds, through the bad things that have happened to me? A while back my spiritual director explained to me that all humans have one root sin that tends to be their main struggle. While we are all human and all sinners, certain people are more inclined to drift toward a particular area of root sin. This was life changing for me because once I identified the root sin I most struggle with, a light bulb lit up — I realized that a lot of what I did and how I reacted and how I thought was through the lens of that particular struggle. What a life changing moment.


Suddenly I could identify ways that my thinking was flawed because I recognized the sin and brokenness that was wrapped up in it. It was freeing and wonderful.


The ideal, of course, is not to operate out of these weaknesses or sins but out of goodness. A better lens to view life is that of contentment, of a focus on what has gone well instead of what has gone wrong. God is a loving God who is faithful and forgives our sins. We really are free to focus on the good instead of all the ways we’ve failed or have been failed by others.


This attitude is part of what makes a focus on gratitude so life-changing for so many people. Making a list of what we are thankful for is a tangible reminder of the ways God has been faithful. It’s embracing God’s goodness by declaring his victory. How has God been faithful to me? We take a moment to write down the evidence.


Ultimately, the best lens any of us can use is Jesus. Our lives belong to him, through the ultimate gift of self he offers on the cross. The freedom he won for us gives us life, and when we move through our days aware of all Jesus is and does, that’s the best filter there is.


As we leave the Lenten season and enter the beautiful celebration of Easter, let us look at the world around us through God’s goodness, his faithfulness and the freedom and joy given to us through our risen Savior.


God’s love is great; his mercy so overwhelming. That lens is a beautiful way to look at the world around us.


Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.


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