I wish you could see yourself through His eyes

Henry

By Renate Reidemann

Suddenly there is a life-sized lump in my throat. The radio was softly on in the background this morning just to break the silence in the car.

(Which in itself is pretty un-Renate-ish, because I prefer the sanctity of silence. I’m any convent’s dream.)

Maybe it’s the constant pain in my right knee after I wrestled with a fast-moving creeper in the garden yesterday, or maybe it’s this morning’s quiet time. As I cross Renbaanweg, I am confronted with the lyrics of an evergreen Afrikaans song that I tried to avoid as a child.

But from somewhere I find the strength to quiet the protesting nine-year-old self and listen attentively.

Every word now hangs heavy in the car and it’s as if the meaning of this song breaks open for me for the first time:

There’s a park in my hometown far away from the city’s noise.

Where the children come to play and party after school in the afternoons.

And one day I see a little girl, alone on one side.

With tears rolling down her freckled face.

And I say:

“Freckles, darling there’s a rainbow in your eyes.

Would you like to hear a big secret, everyone wants to be like you.

Because you’re beautiful, lovely, and she gently squeezes my hand.

And said: “I wish I could see myself through your eyes.”

The last words keep grinding in my head. And as these words stir heartstrings in the deeper chambers, I remember the following:

“A face without freckles is like a night without stars.”

So read the sign that my parents bought for me as a child at a church bazaar. All in the hope of comforting their little girl, but the thought in my head was always “why does the doll on the sign look so ugly!”.

As a child I was so sensitive about my freckles that I allowed them to make me feel inferior. It went so far that I started to feel even less “feminine”. And yes, of course we all know bullies – what’s a school without a troll or two.

But the story is not about me. It’s not really about freckles either. It is about the way we look at ourselves and the distorted image that is so contrary to what others see. We measure ourselves against others and then always fall short.

Too fat, too clumsy, too boring, too stupid, too unfit, too ugly, too boring, too antisocial, too quiet, too old. But how would we react if we could see ourselves through someone else’s eyes?

And then I get to my quiet time.

Luke 11 says: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is then right, your whole body is also enlightened; but if it is wrong, your body is also dark. Then take care that the light is not in your darkness.”

I realized that we have to be conscious of what we allow ourselves to see. What do you see in the world? What do you see in others? What do you keep yourself busy with? What do you choose to ingest? What do you see in yourself? What do you see in the Lord?

And then comes the important question over which a giant shadow hangs: Who steals the light in your eyes? And then I see my worst enemy. And it was me all along. The bully inside me.

May we learn to be gentler on ourselves and each other. May we celebrate others’ breakthroughs. May we live more lightly. And may we choose to see the beautiful. Seeing what is pure. That which is praiseworthy.

And that which is actually deeply rooted in the mystery of the Almighty Father. I would like to conclude by changing the song’s words a little. “And I wish that you can see yourself through His eyes”.

  • Renate Riedemann is a full-time musician and the owner of the agency Resound Music. With the arrival of Covid-19 and the forced stop of, among other things, the performing music industry, she began to express herself through writing. From humorous short stories, to poems and deeper pieces of writing, she also walked out her own path of loss and mourning, word for word. For her, writing is like art and therapy with wings.