Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Blink

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

Matthew 6:22-23a (NIV)

What do we see in the eyes of other men? When we look intently upon a man’s face, our tendency is to only see the outward appearance, the physical features and the characteristics that speak of his make-up. We see shapes and sizes, colors and skin tones, flaws and defects, or signs of beauty and comeliness. Sadly, we often make determinations about the type of person he or she is by only seeing what is on the obvious exterior. Even a person’s walk, the things he does, his mode of behavior and method of socializing, is seen by us as proof of what he is all about. What we fail to see is that, in spite of a man’s outward appearance and how good or bad he seems to us, God has provided us with a window in which we can look into a man’s soul and get a brief glimpse of what might possibly reside there.

When God created man, He, in His infinite wisdom, placed the eyes of man at the loftiest location possible on the human body. This gave man the ability to see what lay around, above, and beyond his immediate vicinity. Our Creator also fashioned expression around the eyes; the brow which can form our face into frowns, smiles, or surprise; the wrinkles that spring around our eyes and accentuate the mood we are in. The eyes are the key body part that can mold our faces with expressions of joy, sorrow, anger, shame and regret. What is even more fascinating is that God positioned the eyes of man so that when men were face-to-face, they were given the ability to look into each others eyes. Moreover, it is there, face-to-face and gazing into the windows of another man’s soul, that we can determine his true character, if he will allow us.

I have been in many situations where my attempt to make and keep contact with another person’s eyes is a difficult task to perform. It has always been my contention that if a man will not look me in the eye when he is speaking, he could possibly be twisting the truth or trying to hide something. This has been confirmed by human behaviorists who, for instance, believe a person is lying when they shift their eyes to the left while speaking. Another oddity is how we all move our eyes upward while trying to recall something that has escaped our memory, or downward when we are embarrassed or ashamed. However, the most frustrating to me is when I am engaged in a conversation and the person to whom I am speaking refuses to ever meet my eyes. His own eyes dart back and forth and flit every direction but into my own. Others watch my mouth when I speak as though they were deaf and had to read my lips. It is as if this type of person keeps their eyes running from my own in an attempt to prevent me from seeing into them and discovering what truly lies there. They throw up a veil over their eyes warning us we are attempting to invade forbidden territory.

As children, we have all played the staring contest. The idea of the game was to see which person could out-stare the other before blinking. It is part of my character to insist that others meet my eyes while speaking without “blinking”, for it’s within the eyes I find what I am seeking about that person. As I raised my own children, they knew that Mom meant business when I told them, “Look into my eyes and tell me the truth.” It was in this intimate moment of eye contact that revealed to me whether or not the truth was being told. In other words, if they blinked they were in big trouble.

How many of us are able to stand in front of a mirror for great length and gaze into our own eyes without blinking? I have often found it to be a brief and uncomfortable moment because the reflection I see reminds me there is possibly a fault or failing I have refused to see within myself and bring to light. I believe it is God’s intent that we not only look into other’s eyes, but that we also take a glimpse from time to time into our own. That plank that is lodged there may be bigger than we are willing to admit.

Jesus Christ taught that the “eye is the lamp of the body.” The eyes reflect what they are fixed on. If we are able to look into the eyes of others, it is sometimes obvious that if they are fixed on the world and self, the darkness will be seen within them. However, if the eye is fixed on God, when we look into it, His inner light will shine outward. Our Lord also instructed us that if the windows to our souls reflect His light, then our bodies would follow suit. What dwells within man becomes evident on the exterior and nothing more is left to question and doubt.

When I look into the eyes of other men, my desire is to see a common reflection. I want to physically see what dwells within my fellowman, to be able to search the depths of his eyes for a glimpse of the Light that longs to reside there. If it does not and what I see is only darkness, then I hope he is able to see the Light reflect from my own and wonder about it without blinking.