“For now we see through a glass, darkly…”
1 Corinthians 13:12
A year ago, I bought a new SUV. After a few months, I noticed a plaguing problem: No matter how much I cleaned the windshield, it seemed to be covered by a persistent, dull film. While a little annoying, it wasn’t too much of an issue other than when the bright sun or oncoming headlights caught it directly. And then it was a huge problem, with the combined haze and light creating a great glare that momentarily blinded me.
I repeatedly tried to clean the windshield. I drove the vehicle through the heavy-duty carwash. I used the gas station soapy wash and foam/squeegee tool, meticulously dragging it in very neat rows across the dirty surface. I used my wipers and windshield fluid constantly. I had marginal success with each, but the view through the glass always remained hazy and frustrating.
Last month, I took a long road trip in pursuit of a time of retreat and reflection. Having been in a time of deep questioning, as I left my driveway, I breathed a fervent prayer seeking clarity during my week away.
A few hours into the trip, I noticed a small spot on my windshield, just exactly at eye level, and it appeared to be on the inside. I touched my finger to my tongue and reached to the glass to wipe it away. And when I did, I removed more than the small blot that had caught my notice. Everywhere I had touched with my finger was suddenly crystal clear. I licked my finger again and tried the same scrubbing motion a few inches away. Same result…perfectly clear and a marked difference between the two areas I’d just touched and the rest of the windshield.
The haze had been on the inside of the windshield the entire time. All my efforts to clean externally had been for naught. I had never even considered that the murkiness that was preventing my ability to see clearly might be an interior issue! No matter how much effort I’d put toward solving what I believed to be an exterior issue, it was useless. Because my problem had been on the inside all along.
I burst into laughter! I had asked for clarity, and I had received it. The lesson was so apparent and so important. How often do I think a problem or difficulty has only an external cause or an external solution? How often do I find that the answer lies within, not without? Is it not so true that rather than blaming outside circumstances or other people, rather than attempting to clean anyone else’s outside, the place I must start and the one I must always examine is myself? Haven’t I experienced time and again that it is a change in my internal perspective, not a change in outward circumstance, that brings resolution or peace or answers?
And how sobering to consider the countless times that light has been given to me, but my internal cloudiness caused me to be blinded rather than made to see.
My windshield is clean now. And I’m committed to remembering that real wisdom always knows to clean the inside first.