Evaluating Your Lens

In my last post, I wrote that the lens through which I view my disciple speaks to him louder than my words or actions.  For this reason alone I should evaluate my lens, but it is also important for me to assess my lens because it effects how I perceive myself, others, and God.

Yet a personal lens is difficult to detect.    It was Thoreau who said:

It is as hard to see oneself as to look backwards without turning around.

N.T. Wright gives three questions to help me recognize my lens:

What are the stories I tell?

In order to identify the lens through which I view the world I must listen to the stories I tell others, the stories I enjoy hearing, and the stories I tell myself.  “Human life, then, can be seen as grounded in and constituted by the implicit or explicit stories which humans tell themselves and one another.” [1] A life is an unfolding story that fits into the larger story of God.  Just as I get to know someone by listening to their life’s story, so I must learn to evaluate my own story in order to understand my lens.  The movies I enjoy, the television shows I watch, and the books I read, give a glimpse into my worldview.

What are the symbols in my life?

Symbols are powerful.  The clothes I wear (e.g. A Boston Red Sox hat), the car I drive, the tattoo I display, the church I attend, my room decor, the bike I ride, my “green” grocery sack, the music I listen to; can all be symbols of my worldview.  Not everything in my life is a symbol, but there are certain things that have grown out of my worldview and become symbols.  One way to recognize a symbol is that “symbols can often be identified when challenging them produces anger or fear.” [2]

What is my characteristic behavior?

My dad and my aunt had major surgery on the same day.  The first question my dad asked when he could communicate was how is Pat? None of us were surprised at his question because my dad cares for others, even in his own pain.  What do I avoid? How do I fill my time? What excites me? What bores me?  My predictable behavior points to my lens.

One last thought.  Another challenge are the deep emotions stirred up when evaluating a lens.  Courage is required because you will have to face fears associated with your life experience and you will also need humility to admit that you may have been wrong in some of your perspectives.

[1] Wright, N.T., “The New Testament and the People of God” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), p.38.

[2] Wright, N.T., “The New Testament and the People of God” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), p.124.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *