Have you ever had the courage to look someone in the eyes and to have them look deeply into your eyes to discover what they see? As I come alongside people from hard places, I get the privilege of lingering with people and listening with trauma-informed ears and with spiritually-formed eyes. Many people who have been hurt are full of anxiety, discomfort, shame, and guilt. They’ve felt so judged, mistreated, or neglected that they actually turn away from love. I believe that God made people in His incredible image to be known and loved, but sometimes it can take years for people who have never developed safe and secure attachments to trust love. Instead of turning away when people look away from us, we can begin to connect with people just by looking at them, smiling at them, and saying “hi.”
In his book, Known, author Dick Foth wrote, “I miss the face-to-face, the eye contact that makes us human.” He goes on to quote Atsushi Senju, a cognitive neuroscientist who found that “a richer mode of communication is possible right after making eye contact. It amplifies your ability to compute all the signals so you are able to read the other person’s brain.”
As I’m writing these words, the Holy Spirit directed me to Psalm 139:1-5 where King David wrote, “O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart out the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment You know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!”
As I’ve been journeying through the book of Genesis, I stumbled upon a phrase that just grabbed my attention. In Genesis 16, when Hagar ran away from Sarai, the angel of the LORD found her beside a desert spring along the road of Shur. Hagar was told some news that probably overwhelmed her. She was told to go back to Sarai who treated her harshly, that she would have countless descendants, and that she is pregnant with a wild, oppositional-defiant child. After feeling discarded and shunned and mistreated by Sarai, she felt seen by God. In fact, the Bible records these powerful words. “Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as “the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have seen the One who sees me!”
God not only sees and knows everything about us, He also loves us because we’re His. Out of all that God has created, we’re His prize possessions. God doesn’t look away because of our sin. He looks right at and through us with His perfect love that casts out all fear. God sent Jesus to take care of our sin problem. We’re forgiven by His grace, and we’re fully known and loved.
Maybe we could change our cancel culture and social distancing culture by turning our eyes to Jesus and by turning our eyes to look with love upon one another. If you start looking for the good in others, you’ll find so much good. When you look at people with love in your eyes, they might begin to believe that they also have worth and that they are loveable. Developing your loving eyes that see what God made and sees will change lives and will change our community. Do you have eyes that see?