“That I Might See”–Or not.

“That I Might See”–Or not. November 10, 2022



He gave me my eyes that I might see                                        The color of butterfly wings.

Children have been singing these words by Clara McMaster since they were written in 1961—and they still do. The blessing of being able to see is a supreme gift of a loving God. But not everyone sees things the same way. They might not distinguish the patterns of color on those butterfly wings. Many might see different colors than others see—a rare few see everything only in grey, black, and white. Some see only vague shapes; they may not isolate wings on something as small as a butterfly. Others substitute for lack of sight with highly sensitive hearing, touch, and other senses. As one with a minor visual difference, I’ve learned to avoid judging what others might see or not see, deepening my commitment to Christ, with his perfect understanding and love.

What I Might See or Miss

I do not see depth—not a serious problem, but often inconvenient. I might see the butterfly wings, but I would need a very large net to catch the butterfly. This two-dimensional vision is inherited; it kept my father out of the air force. It has kept me out of a few less significant things.

I might see a PE class archery target, but while my classmates were trying to hit the bull’s eye, I couldn’t get an arrow near the target. While others were perfecting their golf strokes, I was struggling to get the club near the ball. And I was never able to focus a microscope.

My parents did not tell me that my vision was different from anyone else’s; they told me to keep trying harder. Then I failed my first driving test because “that machine I had to look into was broken.” My mother informed me that I was broken, not the machine.

What Others May Struggle With

 We must not judge until we can see with another’s eyesight. My children also have differences in what they might see or not see.

My son grew up with dyslexia; the letters would “dance on the page,” making it tedious and frustrating to attempt to read. School teachers would yell at him because he was intelligent and creative “but just not trying.” He outgrew the problem as a young adult, but many are not that fortunate.

One of my daughters has synesthesia, an overlap of senses so that one sense interferes with another. She sees all numbers in color: each digit is always the same color—5 red, 0 white, so 50 is a red 5 and a white 0. The correspondence is consistent, whether the number is single or infinite.

As an adult, my daughter learned that numbers as she might see them were different from what most others were seeing. She found out when one of her friends read an article about synesthesia and described this “weird condition.”

Math was always a struggle for my daughter, but we didn’t suspect that a sensory condition was distracting her. When I asked why she hadn’t told me, she answered, “I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t know it was a thing.”

How Differences Represent Christ’s love

Christ, who knows us absolutely and loves us perfectly, has given us an incredible variety of differences because he understands what can make us stronger. Everyone has challenges, pain, and difficulties. As we draw closer to Him, we might see and learn from others’ experiences as well as our own.

I recognize so many ways I need to increase the depth of what I might see in the scriptures and in the Savior’s principles, commandments, and ordinances. Forced retirement has blessed me with more time and opportunities to go further. I now perceive depth in different ways.

I recently listened to my son give an intense and meaningful family prayer preceding a funeral. He thanked God specifically for treasured experiences and love shared with the family member who had passed.

He expressed his deep gratitude for the Savior’s atonement, which has opened eternity to people who are so important in his life. There’s nothing mixed up or “dyslexic” about his thinking and perception.

My daughter perceives many features and directions that contribute to beauty and meaning in this world and in her understanding and feelings about the next.

A recent experience with the passing of a loved friend and shortly afterward of a close family member has given my daughter precious perspective so that she might see internal beauty, which she shares openly.

How Our Song Continues

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2012) gave expression to the song of redeeming love that unites us regardless of how differently we might see, hear, think, learn, create, or any other characteristic we may share with some but not all others.

 The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ.

The song by Clara McMaster that opened this blog concludes:

He gave me my life, my mind, my heart                                                 I thank him rev’rently                                                                                 For all his creations, of which I’m a part.                                              Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.




About Sharon Black
Sharon Black has taught and designed curriculum for a private kindergarten as well as for the McKay School of Education at BYU. In the field of education, she has co-authored a few books and some book chapters, as well authored and co-authored more journal articles than she will bother to count. She has edited more books, book chapters, journal articles, and administrative documents and projects than anyone will bother to count (or should). Most significant, she has three children and one grandchild. You can read more about the author here.

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