RBlog – Coal-Colored Contacts

Hello hello, and welcome back to the River Blog! I hope you’ve all had a good week. Mine’s had some ups and down; I’ve been continuing my hour of writing every day for Lent, but I still hit some bumps, such as last night when this one scene of my book just would NOT come together. But I think I had a little bit of a breakthrough! I’m going to take a break from that today and let my hour of writing focus on writing this blog post and maybe on a new flash fiction I can post for my Writing Shorts section. It’s important not to stress yourself out, lest (heaven forbid) you lose all joy for your project.

So, I thought we’d wander back to the original theme of this blog, which is encouragement and positive thinking. It’s something that I struggle with frequently, so I hope that I can remind myself of truths while at the same time encouraging someone else out there. I thought today we’d talk about coal-colored contacts.

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Okay, you probably haven’t heard that phrase before. More likely you’re familiar with its popular originator: “rose-colored glasses.” This is a phrase (for those who don’t know) that is used to define someone who only sees the light and cheery side of things. It’s generally used in a derogatory manner, indicating that the person in question is ignorant or blind to their or other peoples’ problems.

Well, I was considering this the other day, and it struck me: why do we most often complain about people shading their view in an overly positive light? Why do we treat positive thinkers, those rose-glass-wearing individuals, as oblivious, and yet praise those who point out all of the dark and gritty in the world? Why do we think that the terrible things in the world are more real than the wonderful?

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There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis that I think underlines this strange dichotomy of thought that many of us suffer from. Unfortunately, I’m coming up short on finding it (this is what happens when you read a two-in-one volume; it’s in either Mere Christianity OR The Screwtape Letters, as much as that narrows it down ^^;). But here is the gist of it:

  • Man treats negative emotions as if they are the ultimate reality. We see the bad things that happen to us as if they are some great revelation about life: “This is how life really is, dark and terrible and hopeless.” (You can find this philosophy is just about every single book on your high school’s Required Reading list.)
  • But man treats positive emotions as if they are a great illusion. “This happiness I’m feeling is only a fleeting, chemical reaction that distracts me from the greater tragedy that is life.” (You can find this philosophy ALSO in just about every single book on your high school’s Required Reading list. Do you see why I hated those reading lists even though I like reading.)
  • But what sense does this make? Both are emotions; both use the same human body to translate themselves to the same human brain. And yet we treat one as “real”, and the other as “false.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I see this attitude A LOT. Some people call it “realism” (even though it strikes me as being more like pessimism). I know from personal testimonies (and my own experience) that people with depression face this problem often. We think, when we’re depressed, that the dark feelings coloring our perceptions of things is the truth, and we lose sight of the light.

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But, friends, this ISN’T the truth. There is no logical reason why the good things in this life should be less real or less worthwhile than the negative. There is no logical reason why how we feel on any given day should have any real effect on reality; and reality seems to be telling us that it has just as many, if not far more, good and wonderful gifts from our Father as it has sad and dark and lonely times. And this is where my title comes in. We complain about people wearing rose-colored glasses, but I think what we really need to do is check to make sure we aren’t wearing coal-colored contacts. Instead of seeing everything in a rosy hue, coal-colored contacts make everything seem dark and gritty, dirty and nasty. They hide the presence of beauty as surely as their rose counterparts hide the presence of ugliness.

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I guess I’ll sum up my point like this: doing things by extremes is rarely okay. Yes, there are people so set on seeing the good in life that they are blind to problems they need to address; but it is equally, if not even more, common for people to be so set on seeing the bad in life that even the good in their lives turns ugly. What we need to find is the balance. What we need – what I need most days – is the reminder to look at the world against a backdrop other than my feelings and personal biases. My feelings shift like the wind, folks; but there is a Standard by which we can judge our surroundings, that won’t move out from under our feet. And I think we could really use that kind of stability in our shaky world. The stability of knowing that, regardless of how we feel, there IS good in the world that is unshakably real.

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This can be a hard mental shift to make. I know I struggle with it. I’m struggling with it today; my brain and body are out of whack and it makes me feel prickly and sensitive and fearful. But I KNOW that that’s not how God intends me to be, and I’m learning to remind myself that He has a plan in this. If He has allowed something like this in my life, it is only because He is going to transform the bad things into something wonderful. And I can see myself doing better, bit by bit. It will take a little time and patience, but I have hope that I am going to learn to see things as they really are again. Not hued too dark or bright through my own misconceptions, but seen through the eyes of a God who knows what’s what better than any human ever could.

I hope this helps someone else struggling today. There is hope! There is light! It IS REAL! Let’s work together to take off our sooty, filthy contact lenses and see the wonder and humor and beauty around us that’s just waiting to be noticed!

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If you’re struggling with that depression problem I mentioned, here’s a really cool post I found online that I think does a good job of explaining why we feel like we do when we’re depressed:

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Have fun this week, guys! And lemme know if you see any Good Deed Ninjas as work. Here’s a nice, easy one anyone can do in the right situation: if you overhear or are directly told something complimentary about another person, share that with the person. Few things brighten MY day like hearing that someone was talking about how well I did at something! (EDIT: I promise that wasn’t intended as a subtle hint for people to praise me. XD; ) Here’s to seeing the world in a better light this week!

~Jenn H.

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One thought on “RBlog – Coal-Colored Contacts

  1. Eric Michael Heiden says:

    Words to live by. Thanks for posting this.

    That said, while I think negativity is probably a bigger problem, I’m glad you added that bit near the end about the danger of “extremes.” Ignoring a problem can be just as bad as magnifying it.

    Liked by 1 person

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