“They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (Mark 2:22-25, NIV)
I haven’t decided yet if I like surprises. I like the idea of surprises. I like to think I am patient enough, content enough in the moment to not be constantly looking for what’s next. But the truth is, I’m a situational guesser. I look around at what’s happening and I guess what is coming next and in doing so have ruined many a surprise planned by my husband who had tried so hard to make it great.
The thing is, I hate the phrase “you’ll see.” It implies that not only that I have to be patient, which despite its attribute as a virtue is sometimes really annoying; it also implies I am not yet in the loop, I am not invited into the knowing and in that implication waits a lie. That lie says that I am not yet smart enough, good enough, mature enough, pretty enough, fill-in-the-blank enough for whatever it is that I will eventually see and that grates on my ego, my pride, my self-assurance and too often, my identity.
But we use that phrase all the time, not as a promise of greatness, not as a reassurance of things to come but as a threat, as a reminder to whomever we address that we are in the know and they should be grateful. As parents we tell our children who don’t yet understand how crushing the world really is that one day they will see, just wait. As spouses and significant others we threaten the fabric that holds us together by comparison shopping how it is we deserve to be treated and how easily we can find someone to fill that, you’ll see. As Christians we wage war against the “world” because they refuse to use the term “Christmas” at their Black Friday sales while we trample others for goods made by enslaved children in Malaysia because a bigger TV is on our list of needs. But we tell those other “heathens” that the persecution they have laid upon us by not using our festive terminology will be judged by the Almighty God, you’ll see.
The Bible gives five specific and multiple generic instance of Jesus healing specific blind. At no point in this ministry of healing did Jesus blame them for their blindness, mock them because he could see and they could not or simply tell them “you’ll see, eventually.” He healed them and even when they couldn’t see clearly right away, he stayed to make sure the job was done.
When the blind beggar asked for healing at Bethsaida in Mark 8 Jesus spat in the beggar’s eyes, touched them and asked what he could see. At first the beggar’s vision was healed but things weren’t clear. Jesus could have left him like that, I mean he healed him right? The beggar could, for all intents and purposes, see. The Christ we know is not in the business of bare minimum effort, counting on the fact people would just trust him when he said “you’ll see.” He asked them what they could see and met them at the level of their blindness.
We are called to do the same.
So are you ready to get brave? Instead of dodging your teenager’s question of why it’s important to save sex until marriage by showing them a Duck Dynasty YouTube clip and saying “you’ll see,” meet them where they are, ask them what they can see and get honest. Instead of telling your college students that another loan is a bad idea by saying “you’ll see” open up your bank statement and explain that it’s hard, even though you have tried your best. Instead of mocking your partner’s inability to meet your needs ask them what theirs are and see what kind of clarity honesty and hard work bring to the table. Instead of hiding behind Christian-ese chatter on Facebook about which business says Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, clearly marking them as the superior peddler of goods, go find some people who are actually persecuted and give them a Merry Christmas.
When we remember that we were once blind and now we see we are reintroduced to the humility of blindness and the joy of sight. We are called to humbly meet our families, our friends, the poor and powerless in whatever level of blindness they have and say, “I was there once, tell me what you see and I can help you forward.”
As we enter the season of Advent, a season of waiting for who is to come, we are called to a spirit of joyful hope that things are about to get a lot better. When we begin to use “you’ll see” as a promise of a great thing instead of a threat, our vision is clarified as well. You’ll see.
Ali can be reached via email here.