Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunglasses

Nothing in all creation can hide from him.  Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes…..Hebrews 4:13a

Habal, our Urdu language tutor, was fascinated with Ed’s sunglasses. Finally he asked to try them on. He liked them so much he kept them for days and would wear them during our classes. People have been fascinated with cool shades ever since they were invented. They can be a fashion statement or give a sense of security of being anonymous. A border guard once asked me to remove my sunglasses as he checked my passport photo and my face. Shades have a way of letting us look at a person but they can’t see us. They cover up crying red eyes. One time I came down with a serious eye infection and didn’t want people in the clinic waiting room to be scared of me so I wore my sunglasses. They gave a sense of being safe and less chance of feeling like a social outcast.
I learned over time not to wear sunglasses in front of certain Muslim women. One day I visited Hawa without removing my sunglasses before I stepped into her house. I took them off as soon as I got inside and put my regular glasses on once I could sit down. Well, that definitely set off alarm bells for Hawa. She looked frozen and actually a little bit frightened.  The next time the same reaction happened. Finally she talked about my sunglasses.  “The only time women wear sunglasses where I come from is during examination time when the teachers put them on,” she said. While many enjoy wearing sunglasses as fashion accessories, not everyone feels that way.  Actually I can understand that to a certain extent.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone outside who is wearing sunglasses and you feel frustrated because you can’t really look into their eyes? Or perhaps, worse yet, you see your reflection in the dark lenses staring back at you?  When we look people in the eyes so much emotion is captured giving us clues into how they are feeling. Without that knowledge we grope for clues. A distance is created between us because we can’t fully see.
Spiritually speaking we often wear spiritual sunglasses because we don’t want people to really see us but be kept anonymous or hidden. We wear spiritual sunglasses to protect ourselves from scrutiny and shame.  Zarina refused to take off her spiritual sunglasses when we were together.  When I asked her why she did not have communication with her sister she would shrug and look away. She was hiding information from me which she did not realize I already knew. She had a deep sense of her family’s name being shamed. The only way she knew how to deal with it was to don her spiritual sunglasses.  I discovered, however, that when I remove my spiritual sunglasses, usually my Muslim women friends do likewise. I can do that because the things that cause discomfort or shame have already been removed by Jesus, my Savior.  Hiding and self-protection have been taken care of. I don’t need to wear spiritual sunglasses anymore.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you that you have taken my shame away and I am safe in your presence.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.