by Annie F. Downs

I finally purchased new glasses yesterday.

I began wearing glasses in 4th grade. I have been a committed contact wearer since 8th grade, which was approximately 1994.Since then, I believe I could count on my fingers how many times I have worn my glasses.And I can count on my right thumb how many new pair of glasses I have purchased.One.

Before yesterday, I despised wearing my glasses. They were silver dollar pancake sized wire rimmed glasses that I purchased sometime in high school. I honestly don’t even remember when. I only know that I bought them because I was going out of the country and I was nervous to go with just a pair of contacts. I recall that when I picked them out, I chose a pair that looked exactly like my middle school glasses. Now, anyone else would have avoided making any style decision similar to a middle school style decision. But see, I didn’t really care what they looked like because I was not planning to wear them. I was right. I honestly don’t recall a single time when I had to wear my glasses in public during my high school career.

Fast forward to college where I begin working in elementary schools to prepare for my job as a teacher. And all of the sudden, I catch pink eye. Yes, the dreaded “goopy eyed, crusty morning, itch then wash your hands to itch again” disease. I go to the health center at my university and they give me a prescription and say, “Now, wear your glasses for 7-10 days.” My heart drops. My eyes fill up with tears. I can’t imagine having to wear those awful things. For some strange reason, I remember feeling like I looked like Teddy Roosevelt, though that’s impossible because I don’t have the ability to grow a quality mustache like his. I only wore the glasses for 2 days, then popped my sweet contacts right back in and prayed that my eyes wouldn’t fall out from negligent care.

As I’ve continued in my teaching career, I’ve caught conjunctivitis, as it is called by the professionals, at least once a school year.Pretty much, if a child brings it in the building, it magically finds its way to my eyes.And every time, without fail, I have to wear those jar-lid glasses.And every time, without fail, it makes me miserable.

Then, last week I caught a virus. For some crazy reason, probably because the Lord was ready to deal with this, the virus traveled from my chest, to my throat, up my nose, and into my eyes!Who knew your eyes could catch a virus?Well, they can and they do.And mine did.And out came the wire frisbees to wear on my face.

Three days ago I wouldn’t have been able to explain to you why my glasses made me so unhappy. Because, and you’ve probably already thought this, it’s really not that big of a deal. I mean, I am the same person with glasses or contacts. Right? Wrong.

I walked into my mother’s tea shop last week.It was my sister’s birthday and we were going to a nice restaurant for dinner.I had on the glasses.I was miserable and depressed.Mom is staring at me in a funny way and then she says, “Wow, when you wear those glasses, I feel like I’m looking at middle school Annie.”

Bingo. There it is. There is the problem. I feel like middle school Annie. I did not know I could have a light bulb moment and a heartbreaking moment at the exact same time. But that is what happened. It took all I had in me not to cry right then, but the moment did take my breath away.

Because you see, when I left my glasses behind in middle school and entered the wonderful world of contacts, I think it was the start of a slow and continual process of the Lord showing me that I am beautiful. I felt so ugly in middle school. I can’t even think of a word strong enough to express how ugly I thought I was- hideous, unsightly, repulsive. Those all work, yet none of them express the heartache attached to the ugliness. Sadly enough, you probably know what I mean.

High school was the beginning of the path that led me to freedom in Christ. Freedom to believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that I am seriously cute according to God’s standards and my own. For some reason, those glasses were a subconscious connection to my old heart, my old mindset, my old life. And to wear them was to walk in those old shoes again. To literally look at the world through those same eyes. Eyes that were filled with sorrow and despair and hurt. Every time I put those specs on, it was like I became that sad girl again.

A favorite scripture comes to mind.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.

I knew the old had to go. I could no longer look through those eyes. The Lord and I had been through too much to keep slipping those glasses back on. Not because they were out of fashion, though they were, but because of what they represented. The old Annie. Middle school Annie who had no love for herself and no understanding of her worth to the Father.

Another scripture that I have posted in my car brings tears to my eyes even now as the Lord reminds me of it.

Deuteronomy 10:21: He is your praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.

Hallelujah.My eyes have seen the wonders that the Lord has done for me!

So it was time to buy new glasses.First thing Friday morning, I purchased these.I adore them.They are me.They are Annie today- redeemed, loved, rescued, beautiful.They are trendy and sassy- two things which I desperately want to be but just can’t get there.But the victory is in the trying…hopefully.They represent all that I love about me and all I hope to become.The moment I tried them on at the store, I knew.These were the new ones to replace the old.

I have worn them in public without an ounce of shame for two full days now. I’ve gone to a basketball game, spoken at a retreat, and shopped at a bookstore. Never once did I question my worth or beauty. But I have caught myself staring at my own reflection. I can’t stop smiling. Above all else, I am just amazed that my heart can feel this free with such a simple change. God is all about change, all about our hearts, and all about helping us see ourselves the way He sees us. He doesn’t care how big or small the change is.

Psalm 118:23: The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

I can’t believe what I’m about to say, but I’m not in a rush to get back into my contacts. I may wear these glasses for 7-10 days…at least.

6 Comments

  1. Hey Annie! I see this is an old post, but since I just bought my own new glasses, it caught my eye for the first time.

    I have to say that I rebelled against my optomitrist from 5th grade through high school. Tried contacts but hated the maintenance. In college, I needed to start wearing my glasses more often, and now, I only take them off to shower and sleep! I love wearing them. I love picking out new frames every year. They’ve become a fun accessory and a part of my face. I actually think I look BETTER with them on. (So does my 3-year-old who looks at me funny when they’re off!)

    Anyway, great article. I just love your writing.

  2. Sarah รœ says:

    Wow, Annie. I’m totally with you! I’ve worn glasses since I was 11 (I’m almost 24 now) and felt ugly most of the time…until last year. I got my first pair of contacts! I cried when I put them in…I wasn’t ugly anymore! Of course, I’d never been ‘ugly’…it was all inside. God had to show me that. =) Praise the Lord for all He has and continues to teach me! I still wear my glasses almost all of the time, but my new frames are really ‘me’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been strugging with “feeling ugly”, too! And I wear glasses, as well…I really want to get new ones, but need to wait a bit longer…It’s amazing how we look can affect our spirit…

  4. What a wonderful post. It reminds me so much of myself and all the ups and downs I’ve been through with feeling beautiful.
    God is so good though,He has made each one of us beauiful in our own ways!

  5. aussietigger1980 says:

    Believe me, do I understand this!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a dedicated contact-lens-wearer. I have shocking eyesight and was shattered at 16 to pick out a nice pair and have the lenses turn out thick as coke bottle bottoms. I would NOT be seen wearing them in public. Fast forward a few years and my Christian optometrist-friend ‘designed’ me a new pair…there are few times I have been more grateful. ๐Ÿ™‚ The only people that say “If you’ve seen one pair of glasses, you’ve seen them all…” are those that don’t wear glasses. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank-you for posting this… I am on a long journey of trying to discover that I am beautiful and tonight I feel so ugly and this just really encouraged me!

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