Do You Have a Bad Spiritual Lens Prescription?

Even if you have perfect eyesight, there’s no way to avoid wearing lenses.

We all grow up surrounded by different beliefs, shaped by different experiences. To paraphrase something our friend, Chris, liked to say – no one can have the exact same belief structure.

These lenses inform our understanding of the world around us and largely shape our experience with it.

There are several basic problems with lenses:

  • we don’t recognize we’re wearing them
  • it’s too easy to forget others have different lenses
  • we judge others through our own lenses
  • some people never change their prescription
  • we’re thrown for a loop when one of our lenses gets cracked
  • it can be nearly impossible to identify/find common ground with some lenses

No one’s “mindsight” is 20/20…

No one's "mindsight" is 20/20 - Tico + Tina quote

My lenses were influenced in part by growing up in a Christian family in a conservative Christian community. David’s were influenced by growing up as a Latino PK/MK.

Of course there are many other factors that shaped our overall worldview lenses, but I want to look at some of the lenses that have shaped our view of God and our interactions with His body.

While I referenced the value of God’s body having different viewpoints and being able to be unified without all thinking the exact same way in an earlier post, I do believe we will need to learn how to properly wear one major lens – love. For love covers over a multitude of wrongs.

David and I were talking one day about not identifying with some of the lenses one of our friends used to have of an angry God or of not being able to ask questions within the church. He reminded me that friend had grown up Baptist, which made me think it would be interesting to try to identify the lenses we had from our own “brand” of Christianity.

8 Crappy Spiritual Lenses We Grew Up With

Having a martyr mindset that suffering for God is noble…

David and I both come from a Mennonite background, which has a history of martyrdom. We both felt the mostly subconscious preoccupation with “suffering for Jesus”… “pick up your cross”, “die daily/die to self”, “if the enemy isn’t giving you a hard time you’re not doing something right”, etc.

Old Testament God/God the Father is just a jerk, Jesus is the nice one…

So I said I didn’t see God as angry and ready to strike me down, but that was because I was pretty much just identifying with God as Jesus. I honestly didn’t know what to do with Old Testament God, but I figured that the “real” God was the one who Jesus portrayed. Then I finally realized, duh, Jesus only did “what he saw his father doing” = good, and he came to show us the Father.

There’s a formula for God’s perfect will…

As I said, the fear I had of getting something wrong wasn’t because I was concerned God would do anything to me, just that I would miss something important and mess up my own life.

God is in control – we’re God’s pawns and should just surrender to “his” ways…

There was always this lens that created major friction – God is in control/nothing can happen without him allowing it, but you’re still responsible for what you do…

God is in control, therefore everything that happens is from Him in some capacity… but yet, not? Because He doesn’t like bad stuff… but yet…?

Everything happens for a reason, so we just have to surrender to the bigger picture plan that He must have and someday in heaven we’ll understand – trying to fit every part of life into “this must be a special part of God’s plan”… somehow.

It creates this weird dichotomy of needing to strive to get everything right, but at the same time spreading a hopelessness that in the end, God will do whatever he’s gonna do and you just have to try to be thankful for it.

As humans, we interpret God’s goodness and promises all wrong…

We know God can’t be wrong, obviously, (and he’s in control, remember?) but there are so many things in the Bible that don’t seem to hold up to our experience, so I grew up with people making excuses for what God must have meant. When someone died instead of being healed, for example – oh, they just received their “perfect” healing.

Ugh. Hated all of that so much.

It’s up to us to “save” people…

I hated the feeling that I should have an agenda with everyone, always looking to find a way to share about God somehow… The fallback was “actions speak louder than words”, but you still always kinda felt like you should say something… or at least show your allegiance through praying before meals in restaurants!

Fairly early on in life I developed my own theory of interaction so I wouldn’t have to constantly be in awkward analyze mode of whether or not someone was properly “saved”: No matter where someone is at in their spiritual journey, my goal should be to raise their spiritual atmosphere/draw them closer to God…

Dust suits are bad…

I wrote an earlier post about this lens of feeling that bodies were essentially bad. Although our families weren’t that conservative, we each had some connection to conservative communities where I feel like this notion tends to be more prevalent.

The world is bad/going to hell in a handbasket…

Along the same lines of the body being bad, having the notion that the world was evil anyway and all going up in flames at some point came with the subconscious notion that recycling is dumb, for example… People trying to save the world were just… worldly.

This lens meant less motivation and action to create positive change in the world in general.

In conclusion…

The biggest thing I noticed in thinking about our lenses is that they were by and large very double-minded and put us in a very passive role in our lives.

Double-mindedness is something warned against in the Bible. It puts you in a position of powerlessness, which honestly explains a lot about the state of religion today.

What are some of the spiritual lenses you’ve changed your prescription on?

8 crappy spiritual beliefs I grew up with
Is it time to change the prescription of your spiritual lenses?
Do you have a bad spiritual lens prescription?
About the communicator
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Tico & Tina

David & Christina are recovering "lack" addicts who share tidbits of their minimalist, digital nomadic life at The Liberation Collective.