I'm not who I was.
My son is colorblind.
This is not a metaphor in regard to racial equality of being a brown boy in a peach family. (In fact, that metaphor rubs me all kinds of wrong because of its unintended implications of overlooking something that is less-than and being patronizingly nice to it rather than truly seeing the true value of persons and respectfully and lovingly engaging in life with them. But I digress…)
Cheeks has strong deuteranomaly. Without the intervention of technology or a miraculous act of God, he will never see color rightly. That’s just the state of how he was wired in all his humanness. This doesn’t mean that there is something innately wrong with his personhood. It simply means that his visual perception is off.
Colorblindness isn’t the only distortion in our boy’s vision, and quite honestly he is so good at compensating for it I may have never been aware of his struggles if a routine screening hadn’t indicated such. He seemed to recognize characters without trouble, he wasn’t squinting or complaining of headaches, and at the time his mix-ups in color recognition could be chalked up as age appropriate. He correctly identified them a lot of the time too. It’s just that his eyes are the only eyes that he has ever lived with, so he had adapted his output quite well, and at first none of us knew that what he was taking in wasn’t the right thing.
His perception is totally valid, understandable, and logical. But its legitimacy & rationality don’t change the fact that it is wrong.
Cheeks is such a clever person and a problem solver by nature. For example, when he wanted me to make him a grilled cheese sandwich but I was unwilling, he took it upon himself to toast bread in the toaster, put cheese on it, and melt it in the microwave (since he’s not allowed to use the stove). I thought that showed pretty good ingenuity and initiative for a then 5 (now 6) year old, especially since nobody had every showed him anything of the sort. Ever since then, he has taken it upon himself to be the lunch chef for himself and his 11 year old sister about 90% of the time.
I’ve noticed this quality playing out in the practicality of school recently as well. Many times his instructions will be to color a certain section according to a sum that he calculated. For the first half of the year, though his answers were correct, his colors have been off. A lot. Understanding that it’s due to the challenge with his eyesight, if I even were to say anything at all I may occasionally point out, “This is actually green and not brown, although I know it’s hard for you to tell that. ” And that has basically been the end of it.
Recently, however, I have noticed that he hasn’t made as many mistakes in this area. I honestly just thought that his improvements were simply due to lucky guessing. Until one day, I noticed something peculiar out of the corner of my eye: Cheeks would pick up a crayon, gaze at it intently, put it down. Pick up another crayon, examine it, put it down. Pick up another crayon, pause, use it. He was reading the labels! Duh! It never even occurred to me to suggest for him to do this, though it probably should have. (Hooray for getting that whole reading thing down).
Our boy recognized his weakness. He didn’t whine about it being hard. He didn’t make excuses about how he couldn’t help that he sees things the way he sees them. He didn’t play the victim and protest the way that he was made and wallow in self defeat. He simply allowed his weakness to become an opportunity to exercise his strength.
Our son went to the source– referred to the name that the creator gave the crayon, and did the next right thing in accordance to the truth regardless of how he saw it. Obedience through faith makes a beautiful picture.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a grown-up and I still struggle with this
sometimes often. I get stuck on how I feel. I become frustrated with the brokenness of my humanness in this fallen world. When I act on faith in opposition to what I can see or the way that I feel, it doesn’t last. I convince myself that I’m being a hypocrite.
I self-doubt, whine a whole heck of a lot, and then self-loathe my inability to be a big-girl.
I convince myself that it’s wrong to “lie” with my actions in opposition to my feelings. But my lack of faith is wrong. So basically no matter what angle I take, I’m doing it wrong. And did God even really say *fill in the blank* or am I getting that wrong too?… (Which is essentially the first doubt-seeded lie hissed into the raw ears of man).
My insides will bow up at truths spoken to me, even, or especially, kind ones. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” [Proverbs 3:5] is lost. Further, I will convince myself that I’m being wise in doing so. Or humble in not receiving. I should still be able to master my heart, so since I’m not, I’m a failure. Right? RIGHT? Except that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” [Jeremiah 17:9]
I love the church. Don’t get me wrong. I love Jesus more. This doesn’t change the reality that a lot of well-meaning but life-sucking and not actually biblically based church culture has convinced us that we have to do the work for ourselves that only God has the capacity to do and has done. If we would only believe enough or obey enough or set a high enough standard or a wide enough acceptance in accordance to what makes sense to us, based on our very legitimate feelings (that we can’t help having) stemming from how our view is colored, we would get ahold of the reigns. And when we fail at reigning in our own selves, we project some faux holy responsibility in tugging at the reigns of others, sometimes even leading to hyperbolic accusations of long-seeded distrust, sheep in wolves clothing, heresy… the more uncomfortable we get with ourselves the louder and more asinine our accusations of others in the name of perceived goodness become (which really isn’t good at all).
TRUTH says, I need to acknowledge my weakness. But I ought not to form my identity in it. That’s just as prideful and damaging as not admitting to any weakness at all.
All I really need to be doing is referring to the name the creator gave me, taking the next step in accordance with what He has called me, and trusting that he will make a beautiful picture out of what I’m not yet able to clearly see when I allow him to use me to color it.