Seeing New York with New Eyes

(Writing to you about 9am…)
I contemplated posting a picture of me from December 1990 with this blog story. The picture would have been the perfect illustration for one reason – the glasses I was wearing. But, then I remember the clothes I was wearing, which were actually far, far worse than the glasses. Oh my! The outfit I had on. I pray I’m not the only one who has pictures like that. Seriously. It’s bad. I’m wearing – picture this! – a Laura Ashley romper, homemade from what I thought must have been adorable Christmas red, green, and gold paisley fabric, complete with ecru ruffle and a large green bow on the front. I made it to wear to Brad’s company Christmas party. Could it be any worse? Oh, yes. Nevermind. It could be worse. That would be the year I decided to get my hair highlighted on the DAY OF Brad’s Christmas party. Which ordinarily wouldn’t be a problem, except we were quite poor as young newlyweds, and I only had $10 to get my hair done. And, for $10 bucks, my only choice was Vogue Beauty School. And, I did get highlights for $10, but it just so happened that they all came out on the front left side of my head. A near Cruella de Ville look except I didn’t have the matching black and white slinky dress she wears. That was clearly worse than the Laura Ashley Christmas romper I wore. Heaven help Brad. It is a very good thing Texas Life stopped having Christmas parties some years ago. I would have ruined his career.

Anyway, this is not about rompers or bad hair, although I have more bad hair stories I can share on another day. The day the twin towers were hit was also a very bad hair day for me. Note to self: do not die hair three different colors all in the same day. You are not likely to have a good result. Or hair.

Ok, seriously. I’m on track here. The picture I’m talking about would’ve been perfect for this blog post because I had on these enormous glasses, which I might add, were very much in style at the time. I actually liked them, and only now look back to realize how ridiculous they looked. It seems much of fashion is that way. My bad eyesight dates way back to my young years, although I didn’t wear glasses until I was out of high school. Surely it doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out. We couldn’t afford contacts, and I wouldn’t have been caught dead in glasses. But, when I turned 20 and couldn’t pass the eye test to get my driver’s license, I had no choice. Alas, the very large and very fashionable glasses. And, I discovered there were leaves on trees! I’d had no clue up until that point. I also discovered a lot of other cool stuff like exit signs on the highway and people standing across the room from me. I never knew I was missing so much!

When I could finally afford contacts, I thought my life would never be the same. I could see and not have indentions on my nose from heavy glasses. Amazing. And, then in my early 30s, I had lasik surgery done. By that point my vision was so bad, I couldn’t even see the big E at the top of the chart. Lasik was nothing short of miraculous. Within a few hours of the surgery, I could see everything…20/20 vision! I could read the menu at the restaurant and the billboards on the highway. My favorite… I could lay in bed and read the alarm clock. It was life changing.

Fast forward a few years to about 44 years of age, and I’m once again wearing a contact. Singular, not plural. I wear it in my left eye so I can avoid reading glasses. Although I think they have adorable little pairs, I still have not gotten over the trauma I experienced from my early glasses-wearing years. I’ve diagnosed it PGSD – post glasses stress disorder. My optometrist is male, so he clearly does not understand it, but he gave in and let me have a singular contact. He was afraid of a meltdown and didn’t want to be held liable for my trip to DePaul Psychiatric, I’m sure.

But, I seriously didn’t write all this because I wanted y’all to know my long and stressful eye history. I’m sharing it because all my life I’ve wanted to go to New York CIty, and I’m going! In fact, I’m in air above somewhere between Texas and New York as I type. And no, I did not pay the ridiculous $15.99 for GoGo Wireless on the airplane. I’ll have to wait until this evening to post this. We have free internet at the hotel where we are staying. Well, free if you don’t count the $200 per night room rate. Free just sounds better.

But, back to New York, for years I’ve dreamed of all I would see if I ever got to go. The Statue of Liberty. A Broadway play. Rockefeller Center. Times Square. All the neon. The Empire State Building. The Plaza Hotel. The Russian Tea Room. FAO Schwarz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Okay, not really, but I think it’s supposed to be on the list, and I am going to try and get a picture of Deedy’s very favorite Van Gogh, Starry, Starry Night. Only a loving sister would do that. The list goes on and on. I can’t imagine all the people, all the history, all the cultures, all the stores, all the buildings.

And, when I set down to start making my itinerary for the five days I’ll be there… so I could make sure and SEE everything I’d always dreamed of seeing, it got me to thinking. Of what is in New York. Of what is in every city. Of what we see, but we don’t see. The broken. The homeless. The needy. The desperate. The lost. The hurting. The hungry. No one goes to New York to see that. No one goes anywhere to see that. In fact, we often hurry past or choose a different route so we don’t have to see it.

There’s just one small problem for me. God has been working on giving me new eyes in the last year. No, I’m not talking about the single contact lens. He’s helping me to have spiritual eyes. Eyes that have been tearfully taking in the broken world we live in. Eyes that have been forced to see the excess and waste in my own life. Eyes that show me how my consumerism and comfort have taken precedence over my caring for others. Eyes that once were focused on me first beginning to truly see others. I’ll be honest. It’s been painful. It’s been gut-wrenching. It’s kept me up at night. It’s made me cry for hours. But an emotional response is not what God is looking for. He doesn’t just want me to think or feel more. God gives us spiritual eyes for more than just seeing. He expects us…no, he commands us to see and take action.

Finishing my thoughts at almost 10pm…
Today we saw Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station, 5th Avenue, Times Square, and much more. But those aren’t the images filling my thoughts and my heart tonight. Instead, it’s the homeless man sleeping on the steps of the cathedral. And the other one digging through the trash as we walked backed from Times Square. And the other one. And the other one. And the other one. It’s the sad face of the little girl sitting on a stool leaning up against a building on 5th Avenue while her mom passes out flyers to people walking by. I can’t stop thinking about how many hours she might have had to sit there, how desperate her mom must be. It’s the man mumbling to himself, eyes numb with pain and body with visible signs of addiction. And so many others.

Father God, I pray you will help me keep my eyes open and my hands ready. Help me be obedient to your command to love others. Help me show others the abundance of your mercy and the hope of your grace. With your help, a harvest beyond my wildest dreams can be produced. WIth a grateful heart I pray, Amen.

1 thought on “Seeing New York with New Eyes”

  1. This is a great post, Trae! Have you heard of Brandon and Jen Hatmaker? I’m rereading Jen’s book “Interrupted” right now, which details their journey to planting Austin New Church. I think you’d really enjoy that book as well as her newest one, “7: An experimental mutiny against excess.” I’ve been friends with Jen since college, and I’m thankful for the amazing ways the Hatmakers are impacting Austin (and beyond) these past few years.

    Have a fabulous time in NYC!

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