This week I am featuring posts by two members of my second writing group. Mitch Bortner is the newest member of the writing group which meets at my apartment complex.
I recently went to an ophthalmologist to choose a pair of eye glasses with a stronger prescription. Wile choosing my new glasses, I was asked if the purple tinted anti-glare lenses would be acceptable. “Yes!”I said, without hesitation. For me purple symbolizes Jesus. The thought of seeing through the eyes of Jesus seems irresistible. Besides, my spiritual and physical vision needs all the help it can get.
My fading eyesight is not the only loss I experienced last summer. In July, I attended a funeral to mourn with a widower friend who was married to his beloved wife for over 60 years. The very next day I met with my spiritual director and good friend, Trevor. This was our last meeting because he was moving with his family to Oregon. It felt like I was in grade school again and my best friend had to move to the other side of the continent. These two losses in the same number of days were overwhelming to me. Yet, with my spiritual glasses, I am learning to experience loss fully and not distract myself from it; therefore, discovering real freedom through acceptance.
During our meeting, Trevor explained that we have a choice about what we hold on to. We can choose to hold on to good or bad things which can lead to unhealthy attachments. He went on to explain that the more we learn to let go of these attachments, the more we live in communion with God. Then we begin to see through the eyes of Jesus without having these attachments cloud our vision.
As I reflected on Trevor’s comments, the image of a Harley Davidson motorcycle came to mind. Over the years, I have struggled with the dream of owning a Harley despite bigger priorities like saving for my daughter’s college tuition. I love the thought of roaring down the open road on one of these powerful machines. I finally blurted out my struggle to Trevor.
He paused for a moment and said, “It is freedom you seek! The Harley represents the freedom to ride off into the sunset.” In an instant, my struggle vanished. Trevor’s revelation helped realize that the burden of owning a motorcycle could easily diminish my freedom. This is especially true if a Harley entails a loan payment.
Another attachment is that I yearn to fit in with all sorts of crowds. I want to be well liked by others. But that’s a big expectation for an introvert who would rather avoid social interaction. During my high school years, we lived on the shore of Lake Macatawa where I had a ski boat at my disposal. I thought the boat, along with affection of a sophomore cheerleader named Paula, would be the key to my popularity. So, I asked her if she wanted to go for a boat ride. To my surprise she agreed. I picked her up on the other side of the lake and we docked at Eldean’s Shipyard. There we sat on the dock, but I could think of nothing clever to say. Finally Paula broke the silence and asked, “Can you take me home now?” My ego was shattered at that moment. Afterwards, the instant replay of this awkward moment would haunt me frequently.
How could I let go of this memory? I could just allow my soul time to deeply examine the painful event. After some reflection, I found that I was choosing to hold on to Paula’s rejection of me. It now seems obvious that I cannot control her thoughts. And going a little deeper is to ask what defines me. Is it the acceptance of high school cheerleaders or of Jesus? Again, I’ll say, “Yes!” to irresistible Jesus who even loves half-blind introverts like me. I’m no longer defined by people’s opinion of me. He defines me by the mere fact that he created me and dearly loves me. He’s my true identity and my vision for freedom.