Last week I bought new windshield wipers for my car and I was amazed at how much better I could see! These new wipers were like a miracle – with just a few strokes they swiped the windshield clean, giving me a clear view of the road ahead. For weeks I had been driving with impaired vision without even realizing it. I just assumed that everyone looked out windshields like mine, through streaks and skips and stripes, straining to see in the sun’s glare. It’s hard to say exactly how long my sight had been compromised because it had deteriorated so slowly, over a long period of time. This got me wondering what else in our lives might be performing less than optimally without our noticing.
There is a theory that says if you drop a frog into a boiling pot of water it will immediately hop out, but if you were to put that same frog into a pot of cold water and slowly heat it up, the frog will stay put, not noticing the heat or the danger. Now, I’ve never tested this hypothesis – and I have some serious ethical questions for those who have – but I can see the truth in it. I think it’s natural to become so familiar with something that we don’t notice subtle, but ultimately substantial, changes. We think we’re doing just fine when, before we know it, the water is boiling beneath our feet. If we’re not careful, long-standing relationships can erode as patterns of behavior ingrain themselves, diminishing our view of those around us. Our beliefs and opinions – our faith – formulated in our distant past and clung to with unexamined, habitual resolve, can fall prey to this fate as well. So, what are we to do? How do we avoid a frog’s fate?
It’s mostly up to us to notice when our view is getting cloudy. We all need to change our wiper blades from time to time, and much more frequently than we may think. When we do, we’ll see the road more clearly, with all its attendant dangers and abundant opportunities. Sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, someone – a trusted friend or a family member – may point out that our view has somehow gotten murky. A child comments that we’re bringing too much work home from the office. A hymn at church unexpectedly brings tears to our eyes. Or our partner utters those ominous words: “We need to talk.” Such windshield-wiping moments can be challenging, but they can also show us how beautiful the journey can be when the view is unobstructed. They can remind us of the miracles that happen when we are in relationships with those who see us clearly, even when we’ve lost sight of ourselves.
This day and every day, I wish you peace.