It was one of those unusual days last week. I had prayed that morning that the Lord would use me as His vessel and help me to see with His eyes. And then I went about my routine. The day was full of appointments. I started out getting my allergy shot. After your shot, you have to wait twenty minutes before you can leave the office and I usually bring a book to read, but I had forgotten it. The office was full of people and there was only one seat by a woman who was obviously very sick and congested. I asked her if she had just started taking her shots. She said yes. I have been there. She also was allergic to everything on the testing sheet except dogs. I have been there too. We began talking about grand children and suddenly she was pouring out her heart about her son who was incarcerated for three months. She couldn’t afford to pay for his bail and traffic tickets and said she hoped it would be good for him. He needed to learn to respect authority. But you could tell her heart was aching. I just listened and confirmed to her that sometimes we need to experience consequences to change. His consequences had caused her to have to care for his three children. She was tired, but I could see her aching heart full of so much love for her son and those babies. I looked into her eyes deeply and saw beauty. Beauty in her willingness to be vulnerable with a complete stranger. She longed to be valued. My twenty minute timer went off and I had to leave, but the image of that dear lady hasn’t left me. I hope to see her again. God had answered my prayer.
From there I went to the nursery to look for a pretty spring blooming plant for my front door. I had asked for some help from a woman and she recognized me. I still don’t know from where, but she started pouring out her story about the death of her parents, her struggles with her family, her daughter she had raised alone. So much pain. Right there in the middle of the flowers, this women pouring out her heart to someone she didn’t really know. She was interrupted several times by other customers, but she went right back to her story. I just listened and told her how sorry I was for her struggles and thanked her for sharing. There was so much anger. She too needed to be seen, to be valued, to be confirmed. I wondered if she had a community of people with whom to flesh out life. I sensed she was very alone. I can’t get her out of my mind. And since I frequent the nursery with my love for flowers, I purposed in my heart to seek her out again. I saw beauty there among the flowers in her heart, in her willingness to be vulnerable. She was longing for something more in her life. God had answered my prayer.
I left there to pick up a young woman for lunch. I listened to her story of her struggles trying to find her way in school and tried to encourage her. She asked about my life and my health. She had been faithfully praying about my illnesses over the last year. She has been through many challenges since coming to the United States to study at LSU, but her faith is so strong. She has a community of believers to love and encourage her, even though she is far from family. I even received an unexpected blessing. She treated me to lunch! As she shared her journey I looked deep into her eyes and saw hope and beauty. She is a seeker and a pursuer. God had answered my prayer.
Later that day I had an appointment with another young woman, a new friend. We meet regularly to study the Word together and share our stories. In our conversation we talked about how difficult it can be for us to truly grasp the deep love of the Father for us. Until we are absolutely convinced of the love of Jesus for us no matter what choices we have made, we will never go to the deep places with Jesus. We will always hold Him at a distance until we are willing to be vulnerable with the Savior about the pain and brokenness in our hearts.
We talked about the need to find a small community of believers to connect with in her new married life. I remember how significant that was for Ken and I as a young married couple. It is so important for us to engage in a community of believers who can encourage us, challenge us and motivate us in our faith journey. As we looked at the Word together, I looked deep in her eyes and saw hope and beauty in her willingness to be vulnerable with the struggles in her life. We only met a few months ago, yet there is such a deep connection in friendship. God had answered my prayer.
At at the end of my day, I was a little weary, but at the same time I felt enriched. It had been the day I had prayed for, a day of listening, trying to see strangers and friends with the eyes of the Savior. I wondered how many days I had missed opportunities to listen or speak life-giving words because I was too preoccupied with my own needs or wants, too busy, or simply not willing to step out of my comfort zone. It had been a day full of encounters with women who like all of us need to be seen, need to be valued, need to share their stories and need to know that they are loved.
That evening I went to choir practice. The choir has been our close community of believers for so many years. We have shared the deepest parts of our lives with them….our struggles, our brokenness and our joy. We have prayed together, loved together, laughed and cried together, worshipped together and shared our faith journeys. I don’t know how we would have made it through some of our darkest seasons without their love and prayers. And I knew when I walked through the doors that night I would experience beauty. Beauty beyond the soaring melodies of our songs, but beauty in the hearts of those who love me and whom I love. Beauty in our willingness to be vulnerable with one another in our stories. Of course, it’s not perfect, because we’re not perfect. But we try to love one another well.
We can only love as deeply as we choose to let others see past the protective walls we sometimes put up between us. And yes, there is risk in being known. There are many things that keep us from letting others into our lives. Fear, pain, insecurity, disappointment, feeling disregarded or devalued. And there are wounds sometimes, wounds in the church, in community. I have been in all of those places too. God blessed me with a very outgoing, vulnerable, loving husband. His eyes see with the gift of mercy. Those eyes have faithfully pushed me and our community of believers into those places of vulnerability and the risk of being fully known. I have come to believe it is worth the risk. I was reminded of that truth in the encounters the Savior designed for my life on that day last week.
Jesus sees the most broken parts of our hearts that we are most terrified of being seen --
and He keeps His covenant to see us fully— and never leave us, ever.
Because the Vulnerable God was forsaken on the cross — we get to be fully seen with our crosses --
and never left, never abandoned, never forsaken.
This is the covenant we can know and we can give — so we are known as His.
That is really how we love one another isn’t it. This vulnerable love that we flesh out together in community gives the world a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. Jesus came to love us and gave us love through His life surrendered... vulnerable, compassionate, beautiful love. A love that really sees us and doesn’t turn away as we expose the most broken places in our hearts.
Why…. because His heart longs to bring healing into those broken places.
“And Jesus, when he came out, saw many people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34)
Every day we have the opportunity to see others with the eyes of Jesus, eyes of compassion. We need God-sight. When we learn to see with God’s eyes, we see glimpses of hope at what is possible with Christ and the beauty that lies within each of us. Every day we encounter strangers, friends and family - some lonely, some lost, some hurting, some desperately needing someone to listen, even a stranger. Sometimes people just need to share their story. We can ask the Father to awaken our perception so that our eyes will see where the mercy, compassion, grace and love of Jesus is needed.
Is there someone in your life who needs the compassionate eyes of Jesus from you?
Ask the Father to give you His eyes to see and His heart of love for the broken today.
Then ask Him to give you the wisdom, discernment and courage to respond faithfully so that others see the reflection of Jesus in your eyes. Sometimes He leads us to speak, sometimes we simply need to listen and see.
Learning to see with His eyes,
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