I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling in my chest. My heart was heavy with the weight of doubt, disappointment and discouragement. It wasn’t just one thing. It was like a million voices in my head convincing me of everything that was wrong.
I got the kids off to school with as much pleasantness as I could muster and then dropped the 3-year-old at preschool. I sat down at my desk to get started on my to-do list for the week. Every simple request in my in-box seemed impossible to answer. Every line on my check list felt like it would take an army to defeat. I was fighting back tears, and then gave up and decided to cry for no reason.
I remembered that I haven’t been getting good sleep the past few nights, and maybe I was just experiencing the same weepy feeling my kids get when they are sleep deprived. I did what I never, ever do with the 2.5 sacred hours of the day when no kids are at home. I crawled back into bed and pulled the blankets over my head.
A few hours later, it was time to pick up my daughter from preschool. I looked in the mirror and wanted to scream. I wasn’t sure if I could look much worse. My face was puffy. My mascara was runny. My hair was schmooshed. It seemed like my face was actually lopsided.
I tried my best to wipe away the black streaks and push my collagen-deprived skin back into place. As I drove the three miles to preschool, I gave myself a pep talk. “Pull yourself together!” Two of my friends have daughters in the same class as mine. I was imagining that awkward moment if they were to ask, “How are you?” and I erupted into a blubbering mess of crying without even being able to explain why.
I put on my best happy face, and hid at the back of the line. I made small talk with the dad in front of me and tried to avoid being seen by my two friends a few parents ahead of me. They were busy chattering away and I thought for a few minutes they might not even notice me.
Soon, I was spotted.
“Hey, how are you guys?!” I said with as much perkiness as I could fake.
And then I am not kidding when I tell you what happened next.
“You look SO pretty today!” one of them said.
“You do! Your face is glowing and your hair is so shiny,” the other one said.
I walked up closer to them, unable to speak. I tilted my head, completely puzzled. I got closer, thinking they must not actually be able to see me.
“What have you been doing? It looks like you came straight from the spa!” the first one jumped in.
“And your skin is so perfect.”
These two had been smoking crack. They couldn’t possibly be serious.
“You look like you got the perfect amount of sleep!”
At this point, my jaw was on the floor.
I asked them if they were joking, and they both swore that they were sincere. I thought there must be something wrong with the lighting. It must be creating a filter across my face.
I looked up at the lights to try to figure out what could be happening. The florescent light was shining brightly in the yellow hallway. There’s no way it could be casting a flattering glow. What on earth were these women seeing?
What WERE they seeing??
Who did they see? And why couldn’t I see her?
I drove home intrigued by this thought. I tried to imagine myself as the person those two women saw. It made me wonder what other people see. I think I subconsciously assume that most people see the worst possible version of myself.
It made me think about what I see when I look at other people. What’s really happening behind the smile and the cute outfit? What’s the real reason that person is acting cold or unfriendly?
What if I chose t0 see myself in a different light? What if I could see what God sees. A precious child. Someone covered in grace. Someone who is deeply loved.
I almost felt like my friends had been granted some supernatural power to see me that way for those few moments when I needed it most. The experience still seems a bit surreal. Whatever the case, it was definitely a good reminder to me to look at people the way God sees them. And to give myself that same grace. To look at the world in a different light.