What do you see when you look at me?

I wonder what they all see when they look into our windows. What do you see when you look at me? Have I spent so much time worrying about what I see rather than how others see me?  We must not confuse our own view of ourselves in the mirror with the view that others have of us as we stand naked in the window.

A famous story among policemen is that of the woman who calls to complain about the man who constantly watches as she undresses each night. When the policeman arrives at her home, she walks him into her bedroom where the shades are open allowing all to see whatever happens in the bedroom.  He politely explains that if she wants privacy all she need do is to pull her shades closed.

Yet so many of us lay ourselves out there, naked with the shades open wide to the world. Opening ourselves to the judgement of others and worrying or complaining about their views when they judge.  Have we not invited them into our rooms? Have we not opened our shades and exposed ourselves to others and their judgement?woman_silhouette_shower_curtain

So why should we fear their judgement? Perhaps we should ask them, what is it you see when you look at me? When going clothes shopping, my bride will try on a new dress then look at herself many times in the mirror, but her view is not complete until she asks me what I see.  Her opinion of the dress is not only framed by how she sees herself but how others see her in it.

The other day a woman called me a racist.  I have been called many things in my life, been cut by words as sharp as the knives that have stabbed me as well.  However, this stopped me and made me look again.  I found myself looking again in the mirror not to see what I have always seen of myself but wondering what others saw in me.  Did others think this of me? What could I have done to earn this moniker at the hands of this woman?

I have spent my adult life advocating for those who needed my assistance, regardless of race or creed.  I have spent hundreds of nights in the worst parts of our community trying to help those who called for help, never once asking what color was the skin of the person whose voice called for my help.  My curtains are always open and my emotions always on display, whether I like them to be or not.  I am a good guardian but not a good actor.  When I am cut, I bleed; when my soul hurts, I cry.

She sees me based not on the lens which I see myself but based on the lens of her own experience.  In her world, we are all racists.  I am a person who wears a badge in her world, therefore I am a racist like the rest.  She sees the shield alone and not the man who bears it.

I will continue to leave the curtains open so that I can look out and enjoy the view.  However, I will also wonder what others see when they look into my window.  I will wonder how they will judge me based upon who they “think” that I am and not what they can see from the outside.  And with that in my mind, I will try not to view them differently or to judge them based solely upon what I see with the lens that I wear but what they truly are. What they are when they lie naked within their room, beyond the open window and passed their open curtains.

I will view them in a way that I wish they would view me, with honestly and a belief that there is good within them until they prove to me otherwise.  I will look out of my window and no longer simply wonder about the things that lie without but also will wonder what others think of me and the things that lie within.

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