Recently, I went to the eye doctor for the first time in a couple of years. I decided to go to a different doctor than I had before merely because of convenience. I don’t really enjoy going to the eye doctor. I always feel a little stupid because without my glasses I can’t read the letters far away. Unfortunately, even with my glasses, I can’t read all of the letters that, in theory, I should be able to see from far away with corrective lenses. The new doctor became a little frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to get my right eye to 20/20. The best he could do was 20/40. He asked me if previous doctors had ever mentioned this issue. I told him that other doctors agreed with him. No one could perfectly correct my eyesight.
This year of 2020 is one that lends itself to the theme of 20/20 vision. I’ve always been one to embrace the idea of developing vision for the future. When a new year or a birthday approaches, I’ll analyze the last year’s ups and downs to determine what worked and what didn’t all with the intention of moving forward. I like to rip pictures and words out of magazines and then make a collage that is my own vision board. My plans cover career, family, volunteer work, friendships. Every aspect of life is susceptible to goal setting. I believe in honing my focus and setting priorities to make dreams become realities.
But after this visit to the doctor, I started wondering about the 20/20 vision metaphor because, in some respects, 20/20 invokes the idea of perfection. We want to see the future clearly without blurriness or shadows. We want to achieve our goals without distractions or detours. But that’s not the way life works. We must understand that neither our plans nor reality will be without difficulty. Having vision and clarity of purpose is great as long as we recognize that perfection is unattainable.
Growing up, I thought God wanted perfection from me. Don’t make mistakes, don’t sin, don’t screw up in any way. Perfection became the goal. A goal that meant I ended every day in failure. A goal that became stunting emotionally and spiritually because it was overwhelming and completely impossible. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned how to more fully follow God’s advice to fear not. If perfection is the goal, fear of failure is never far from mind. Pursuit of perfection and fear go hand in hand, so perfection can’t be God’s expectation of us. He understands that we will make mistakes, and he graciously shows us his mercy, forgiveness, and love.
As we embark on this new decade of the 2020’s, may we have vision, focus, and purpose, but let’s leave perfection seeking behind. Just like my eyesight, my efforts to achieve my goals will never be perfect. But maybe, if we remember that God does not expect perfection in any way, we can pursue our vision with new eyes.
Tina, I’ve been reading some of your work. It reminds me a lot of the place where I write from inside. When we get the retreat center up and running this time next year, I’d love you to come to one of our author events. I think you’d really find it helpful and enjoyable. I’ll have offerings available in a few months as soon as I see when our construction begins. Good work.