Colorblind, and Other Spiritual Insights

– Andy Wade –

My dad is colorblind. No, I’m not referring to the fact that one of his best friends in medical school 60 years ago was black. I’m not even referring to the fact that I’ve never heard a racist comment or joke come out of his mouth. No, he’s really colorblind!

colorblindI knew he couldn’t see red berries on a green bush and that he discerned the color of the traffic light by the position, but today I realized it in a new way. Mom and Dad stopped over today to drop some things off and got to see the progress we’re making on painting our house. Formerly a soft gray, it was now “apple grove green”. I asked my dad what he thought. “About what?” he replied. “About the color we chose”, I responded. “Well, it’s the same, isn’t it?” was his reply. My response, “REALLY?!”

OK, so it wasn’t my most sensitive moment. But I really couldn’t believe he couldn’t see it! What he saw was a darker shade of gray and a lighter shade of gray, all due, so he reasoned, to shadows.

What most of us would perceive as two obviously different colors, he saw in shades of gray. And that got me reflecting. How often do we just assume that what’s before us is obvious to everyone? It’s not that the other doesn’t see it, whatever “it” might be. It’s that they do see something, but it’s different from what we see. And what if I am the one who is colorblind but don’t even realize it?

And here is where the simple, ordinary task of painting the house became a spiritual practice as God revealed to me a new way of seeing, of realizing not only how different we are from each other but the need to walk with humility as we extend grace to the world around us.

I’ll admit, I don’t always walk in the depth of grace God calls me to. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, I would probably have to say, “I don’t often walk…”. And yet this is precisely how we are called to walk, with a deep humility toward self and extravagant grace toward others.

The Apostle Paul ends his amazing treatise on love with these words:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Reality Check: I, we, only see in part. I, we, don’t fully know. We are all, in our own peculiar way, colorblind.

As I did my part painting the house I noticed several spots that my youngest son, Nicholas, had missed. I grumbled in my head about paying attention to details. Then, as I went back over areas I had painted I realized how many places I had not fully covered. I was certain I had covered it all! How is it that there were so many places I missed, that I did not see the first time around? Just another example of only “seeing in part.”

I found myself returning to Paul’s passage about love. How I need to hear these words! How I need to embody these words in all my relationships! If I can only remember just how colorblind I am, perhaps then I can learn to more fully walk in humility, walk in grace toward others – and more fully love like Jesus.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”