As I sat in the local coffee shop this morning, a blind man picked up his cup of coffee and was trying to find a place to sit. My table was closest, so I invited him to sit. His name was Richard.
We talked for a few minutes, and I learned that he has been going blind for about 20 years. He only has about 5 degrees of vision left, and what he can see is only faint shapes and figures. He walks everywhere, and he has a cane and a guide dog.
I asked him what it was like to transition from sighted to blind. He mentioned how this new reality redefines who a person is, or perhaps, it illuminates who a person truly isn’t. When you lose your sight, everything that used to define you becomes secondary to this overwhelming reality. Career changes. Independence changes. Relationships change. Companionship changes. Richard is involved in leading some support groups at the Braille Center. He helps men through this crisis of identity as they lose one life and work to discover their new world and how they fit within it. Many men find the transition extremely depressing.
Richard said something that really struck me. He said that you just have to go for it. You have to embrace becoming blind, hence, his use of a cane and dog before he is completely blind. He is ready for it.
He then told me these words, “A sighted man has to die in order for a blind man to be born.”
Although we were speaking of very different applications, we found a commonality in our philosophy. I shared with him that this is a passion of mine. As painful as it can be, we cannot become the new man until the old man is dead. It hurts to die. It is terrifying to let go of the safety of our current mode of operation. Yet, if we are to discover new life, we have to let the old self go. We have to recognize the great pretender within, the False Self, and put it off for good. It has to die, and with it, all the self-medication, all the way we “pose” our way through life and relationship with God, so we can finally be authentic with the One who knows us anyway, and loves us regardless.
What identity of yours has to die in order for your True Identity to be born?