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Give me Your eyes

Our residents started moving in on Sunday, which means I’m no longer one of fifteen people living in my building.

Probably one of the things I am noticing most about my new floormates is that, superficially, there are a good bunch of both really uninteresting-seeming people and really cute girls.

But I am doing people an intense disservice when I (consciously or otherwise) place them in one of these two categories.  I am essentially saying that, based on information gleaned from brief social encounters, I can completely determine someone else’s worth – and that worth is exactly nothing.

I somehow confuse the vain superficialities of trite conversation and external appearance with a person’s innate, God-given value.

It’s hard to remember that each one of these young men and women has their own powerful story and that they are a coveted work of God.  It’s hard to remember that they are each what the Psalmist rightfully calls “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

So there’s a little game I like to play to help point me back to Christ.  Whenever I catch myself feeling tempted to either dismiss someone as either not worth my time or as a mere pleasure to my eyes, I act.

I stop and forcefully bring to the front of my mind the following:

The person standing in front of me is, whether a bore or a beauty, not a mere and meaningless result of random chemical circumstance.  The fact that they are standing in front of me, talking, breathing, feeling, should indicate to my heart that they are individual and special creations of the highest sort.

In His parables, Jesus speaks of considering people either sheep or goatsgood soil or rocky places.  Similarly, and without a spirit of judgment, it helps me to mentally group people not into the categories of “unbeliever” and “Christian”  but instead into something more like “lost” and “found.”

I remind myself that no matter the bravado, the person I am talking to has been (or still is) just as lost and as lonely and as insecure as I was (and still am), that they need a savior as much as I do, that Jesus chose to die just for them, that at one point in their lives they too have cried themselves to sleep.

Basically, what I need to constantly remember is that we are all human, and that we are all broken.

I need to remind myself that every single person I meet has a Dad who loves them so much that He died for them, whether they believe in Him or not.

Maybe they’re lost in the ignorance of not even knowing their savior’s name?  Or perhaps they are found, living in light of the purchase Christ made at Calvary, working to lay everything out before Him and surrender completely to His will.

So I ask my God to open my eyes to how He sees His children.  I ask Him to show me more every day just how lost we all are without Him.  I try to see like He sees.

Singer Brandon Heath voices this in “Give me Your eyes” (take four minutes out of your day and watch his music video here).

“Give me Your eyes for just one second,” he sings, “Give me Your eyes so I can see / Everything that I keep missing / Give me Your love for humanity / Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted / The ones that are far beyond my reach / Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten / Give me Your eyes so I can see.”

But here’s the nasty thing about this little game: if you’re not careful, it will break your heart.

It’s crazy to think that everyone we meet is either living their lives in light of knowing just how much they are loved or that they are not even fractionally, obtusely, palely aware of their own self-worth. Remind yourself of that.

When first I started analyzing people to discover whether they realized their worth, it absolutely rattled me.  It takes all of my strength to keep seeing people as He does.

I was walking down the quad one day doing just this, trying with all my might, wondering how many of the people hustling and bustling around me even acknowledged the existence of their Father, wondering how many of them were still living their lives in the darkness of fear and misery and loneliness, wondering how many of them were on the path to a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and I started having what I would describe as a mini-panic attack.  It was just too much.  I had to sit down, shaking, until I recovered.

So many of the residents I have spoken to already this week, much like many of my family, friends, and loved ones, tend to treat their sacred, God-given gifts and talents as mere trinkets to be thrown away on the slightest whim.   Don’t they know what’s been done for them?  Don’t they know how much of a gift their body, their words, their mind, their sexuality is?

Many of my close friends invest their total self-worth in what their parents, their friends, or their current boyfriend says they are worth.  But we know that broken people cannot judge worth.  Only a sovereign God can do that.

Sitting there in the warm grass, now almost in tears, I wondered quietly aloud why it hurt me so much to see everyone’s struggles.  Why couldn’t I have His eyes and…walk to class at the same time?

I found that my short engagement in this little exercise of extreme empathy, of incessantly trying to put myself in others’ shoes in light of the love of Christ, an unbelievably draining affair.

It’s rare that I can actually hear God speaking His truth directly into my life, but this time He gave me a response.

“You can’t have my eyes,” He said, “because you don’t have my heart.”

Some of us are quite gifted with empathy.  But it often feels more like a curse, doesn’t it?  Feeling other peoples’ hurts as your own will break you down quicker than anything else, especially if you are trying to go it on your own strength.

If you ask Him, the Lord may give you a small window into other people’s brokenness.  But if we don’t let that window be a constant motivation for returning to Him for our strength, it will destroy us.

I have learned that He doesn’t give us His eyes because our hearts would not be able to hold in all of the pain and desperation we would see in ourselves and others.  He doesn’t give us His eyes because though sight spurs action, not one of us can save like He can.

To see all of the destruction in someone’s life and not be able to do anything but endure it with a human heart would be torture.

It would kill us to always see as He sees. He only gives us His empathy and keen insight for a few minutes at a time because He knows that’s all we can handle.

So are you still blind to the pain and hurt that those around you face every single day? Do you still see no evil?  Ask Him to open up your eager eyes.

But first, make sure to ask the Lord to give you His heart, for this will be your strength.  Then, and only then, can you safely ask him to give you His eyes – and you will finally receive true sight.

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