I often talk and write about the fact that we all perceive the world, ourselves, and ourselves in the world through many unique lenses, most of which we are unaware. These lenses may have been formed by:

  • The part of the world we grew up in
  • Our family of origin
  • Our experiences, both good and traumatic
  • Our friends
  • Our career
  • Our prejudices
  • Our faith lives
  • Our beliefs about how the world should operate

The combination of lenses is what makes us unique. We each move through life with our individual kaleidoscope perceiving the world in our own special way.

Occasionally, one of the lenses slips, or gets cloudy or doesn’t seem a good fit anymore, and we must adjust. On some occasions, though, our kaleidoscope thoroughly and completely shatters, and we’re left sitting with the broken pieces of our lives wondering how or if they will ever be repaired. The shattering may be the result of the death of a loved one, a divorce, a devastating diagnosis, a job loss, infertility, or even a joyous event such as the birth of a child, a promotion, or a cross-country move.

These shattered kaleidoscope pieces may still be beautiful in isolation, or they may have sharp edges that slice when held too tightly. Our instinct is to force the shards back into the shape they previously held in our lives, but we soon realize that’s a fool’s errand. Our second instinct is to move as quickly as we can to create some semblance of a kaleidoscope because otherwise, we feel naked and vulnerable. Who are we? What do we believe? What do we know? Moving too quickly is also foolish because the result is never satisfactory.

It takes courage to sit among our shattered glass, hold the individual pieces up to the light and still see their beauty, and trust that someday we’ll have a new kaleidoscope that will have its own kind of beauty. Be gentle with those you meet. Many of them may be picking their way through the shards of their kaleidoscope.