Up until about 10 years ago I had 15/20 vision. That means that I saw at 20 feet what most reading glassespeople see at 15 feet.

Now at 51, my vision degradation is palpable—I have to wear reading glasses for any font smaller than 16 points. As a Language Arts teacher and writer who spends most of her time reading, this is incredibly inconvenient. And my reading glasses, anchored around my neck with a lanyard (not unlike the one my grandmother used to wear) is a constant reminder of not only my diminishing vision but my acute inability to keep track of a simple pair of glasses (an embarrassing sign of short-term memory loss).

Like my physical vision, I thought my “spiritual vision” (how well I see myself and the world around me) was pretty darned good. Friends and co-workers sought me out for my Biblical insight about many things. I secretly patted myself on the back for my “wisdom.”

But about 2½ years ago, right about the same time my physical vision started to diminish, I found out how warped and dirty my spiritual glasses were. Co-dependency, I discovered, had created in me a distorted view of myself and those closest to me and left me with a spiritual vision more like 1000/20.

After 30 months, I think I see myself more clearly the way God does. Sure, the emotional fluctuations of menopause sometimes blur that vision like a bad trip through my high school yearbook. But with these changes, I’ve had a revelation.

I think God actually has all his “kids”—yes, the entire human race—on a sorta barter system. We just don’t figure it out until after we have enough candles on our birthday cake to set off a fire alarm.

See when we’re young and spry, we’re just flat stupid about ourselves and the world. Sure we have strong and beautiful bodies, but our minds are so full of ourselves we can’t see the truth about much of anything. As we age and are humbled by our weakening, wrinkling, graying, and sagging physiques, something miraculous happens—we stop placing so much importance on the externals.

Slowly God begins the old (literally) switcheroo. He trades us the temporary value of the physical for the far costlier value of the spiritual—wisdom and insight of both ourselves and the world around us. Solomon said it was worth more than gold or precious gems. That’s why teen-, twenty-, and even thirty-somethings don’t really have it. It costs too much and they haven’t “paid” for it yet.

I’m a vain, modern-day woman. I deplore seeing the wrinkles creeping around my eyes, despise the veins crawling up my legs, and dread what Maya Angelou so eloquently referred to as “the incredible race to see which [breast] will touch my waist first.”

So every time I pull out a cloth to clean the goop off my lenses so I can read a book or type up another blog entry on my laptop, I have to remind myself that while my physical vision may be failing, my spiritual vision is getting magnified each day.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good trade.