When I Can’t Be…

I was 10 years old when my great-grandmother put a 110 Instamatic camera in my hands for the first time, and a camera has been in my hands ever since.

When trying to explain my passion for photography, someone once framed it well for me – it’s how I see the world.

She was spot on.

Relationships are like lenses on my camera.  Every relationship needs its own lens from zooms to wide angles to panoramic to macros, each person in my life is seen through their own lens depending on who I am to them: wife, mother, relative, friend, coworker in volunteering, neighbor and even stranger.

Recently, my lens in one relationship has become blurred.  I’ve had lenses that have broken, and this feels the same way.  I can’t focus clearly nor remove the fog built up under the glass to see the image accurately.

Frustrated, I try to continue this relationship with a broken lens.  Even more frustrating, I don’t know how it broke?  All I know is that isn’t not working.

Last night, I drove home in tears over this relationship and my inability to fix any part of it.  It’s a very helpless feeling to look at who I am to someone and know full well on their end that it’s not enough.

Truly unaware of why my lens, my role in this relationship, is broken is perpetually discouraging.  Deflating.

I am not a quitter.  Never have been.  So, I do all I know to do – keep the camera steady and use a broken lens.  But, I know that doesn’t work.  The results are fuzzy, off center, distorted, under lit, over exposed, etc.

As I drove home in tears, hands proverbially weary from holding the camera in this relationship, I cried out to God – quite frankly I will add.  I can’t change the lens.  I am one person to this person, and can’t be anything else.  We all are.  We can’t be mothers to our husbands, fathers to wives, strangers to our children, bossy to our coworkers, etc.  Roles – lenses – are defined.  So when I realized my role isn’t working, I don’t know who else to be!

That’s when God answered me – in the rain and dark of night on the city streets.

Be Jesus, He said.

Wow, if we ever wonder if God is really listening to us, it can be in those moments He shows up in such a personal way there is no question He hears every word, every thought.  He heard me last night and responded.  However, my reply was flat.

God, I am trying to be Jesus to this person in my role to them.  I am trying!

No, just be Jesus.  No one else.

It’s like God came along side me, put His hand gently on my camera, grasped His other hand on the neck strap, lifted it from around my neck and carefully took the camera from me.

Now be Jesus in this relationship.

I will say that this is first time I’ve ever seen the world without a lens.  I didn’t realize just how many lenses we have for our lives and how much they influence how we think.  Whether I’ve been a wife, missionary overseas, a neighbor chatting on the street, a mother of 3, a daughter, an in-law, or employee, these lenses also come with filters of emotions, external factors, internal factors, past experience, and our general perspectives.

It’s no wonder I am utterly exhausted from trying to work with a broken lens.

Just be Jesus.  Hmm.  What does that look like?  I recalled different moments in Jesus’ life as He traversed this planet 2,000 years ago.  He exhibited an array of emotions and actions.  He laughed, cried, got righteously angry, worked hard, admonished, encouraged, was tired, got frustrated, healed, didn’t heal, taught, listened, suffered, was sad, disciplined, needed time alone, stood His ground, escaped, was powerful, strong, weak, attentive, dismissive, stern, gentle, was hated and was loved.

As I drove the wet streets, hand shaking and my spirit feeling faint, God prompted me to recall some of Jesus’ names: King of kings, Lord of lords, the Way, Savior, Healer, Friend, Brother, Emmanuel, Son of God, the Second (or Last) Adam, The Word, Messiah, Bridegroom, Lamb of God, our Shepherd, Bread of Life, the Branch, the Vine, Rose of Sharon, Bright and Morning Star, Horn of Salvation, Rock, Husband, Builder, God, Deliverer, Shield, Righteous Judge, Helper, Portion, Servant, and Prince of Peace to name a few.

Prince of Peace!  When those three words came out of my mouth my heart leapt in agreement.

God was asking me to put down my camera and see this relationship through the eyes of Jesus, our Prince of Peace.

I can’t tell you what that did to me in that moment.  I have been desperate for help to know the next step to take, but was so bound up in my role to this person that I felt caught in a house of mirrors – my role reflected everywhere I looked.

He removed all of the mirrors and there I sat, knowing exactly how to respond to this person.  Be peace.

There is a season for everything.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 can relate to relationships (with, of course, modification of appropriate boundaries and actions)…

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

God was prompting me to be peace to this person.  But, not through my relational lens. Be peace the way Jesus is peace.

My entire view of this person changed.  I saw them how He sees them.  To simply be Jesus to them, I was able to feel compassion, had a clear mind, and my hands stopped shaking.  My heart rate returned to normal.  My breathing slowed down.  A sense of calm washed over me like a warm bath.  I was in a complete state of peace, because for one thing I was emotionally released (if only for a time) from being locked into a certain role to this person.  I could lay that down and be Jesus to them.  Also, I was reminded that God is over all.  He sees everything, and nothing passes through His hands that He can’t use for His glory and our best interest.  This enabled me to look up to Him and not be trapped looking only at the circumstance that surrounds me.

So Jesus I will be to this person for as long as God says to.  No strings attached.  It’s a ministry opportunity and I welcome the prospect of being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

When I can’t be who my relationship defines I should be, I can be Jesus.

My camera usually stays within feet from me so I never miss a shot.  God has asked me to take this particular lens off and let Him repair it.  I gladly release it to Him.  I trust Him.

If you have a relationship in your life where you feel you’ve tried everything you know to be the right person, try being Jesus.  Just Jesus.  Not Jesus-husband, Jesus-wife, Jesus-friend, Jesus-relative, Jesus-father, Jesus-mother, Jesus-coworker.  Just…Jesus.

It’s an entirely different perspective – one I needed.  I see this person differently.  I see the world differently.  I see myself differently.  All of it laced with grace, truth and hope.

What do you see when you look at your life, your world, through the eyes of Jesus?

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