One of the most important things Bill and I learned in a parenting Bible study we were involved in when the kids were young was to teach our children to look people in the eye. We loved how Gary Ezzo pointed out the importance of eye contact and how it communicated love, respect and value to the person you were in communication with. As we set out to teach our children the importance of eye contact, we quickly realized this was not going to be easy.
Our children didn’t readily want to look us, or others, in the eye much less stop what they were doing at times to look directly into the eyes of the one speaking. We very much tried to parent this principle in the context of each situation. If the boys were in the middle of a game and someone interrupted to say hello, it was unfair to ask them to just freeze and look someone in the eye. We had to teach them “judgment” as well. Judging and evaluating each situation and its context but always seeking to do the right moral thing.
Recently while watching one of our kids being addressed by another, while they were looking at their cell phone….made me just a little aggravated, nope not a little, a lot…to be honest. I wanted them to look up and give “full eye contact” to the person speaking to them. I sat there realizing my children are young adults and just prayed. I learned in the last four years I can’t always interject immediately, not only will it not be well received, but somehow……they stand their ground…I guess in being their own person….and keep on doing what they were doing even if, in their heart, they know I am right. As I sat there and asked God to please convict their heart of “disrespect” a funny thing happened……my heart was convicted…..so many times I am looking at my cell phone or laptop and don’t look up when I am being spoken to…. Of course, there is context but I could at least say, “Give me just a minute and I will give you my attention…..I am in the middle of a sentence or a thought and I need to finish….”
Eye contact is a powerful form of communication….when you look someone in the eyes…you are telling them they have value, that they have your undivided attention. You are giving them respect and allowing yourself to have the best opportunity to listen with your eyes and not just your ears. Funny, sometimes people can have my eyes and my ears but I still forget….meaning I am working to give my full attention and somehow….a thought or distraction races by and boom…..my focus and attention are gone…I hate it when this happens. Sometimes I hear and see and just plain forget!
As I study the book of Mark, it is funny how Jesus poses this question to the disciples. Starting in Mark 8:17, “‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the 5 loaves for the 5000 how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ ‘Twelve,’ they replied. ‘And when I broke the 7 loaves for the 4 thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ They answered, ‘Seven.’ He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?'” This conversation was going on between the disciples and Jesus in a boat. They only brought one loaf of bread…… they were talking about having no bread….this conversation was taking place RIGHT after they had witnessed the miracle of seeing Jesus feed the multitudes.
I will have to say….reading this story ….and having the whole picture….the “helicopter view,” it is easy to be so critical of the disciples….duh…didn’t they see and give “direct eye contact” to the miracle?……didn’t they “hear?” Come on….aren’t we just like the disciples??? How many times have we witnessed God’s awesome and powerful hand in our lives and then turn right around as if we didn’t see, hear and experience. WE worry and question at times??? This is so convicting to me……I have witnessed daily the fingerprints of God in my life and in my family….how many times…do I forget the “direct eye contact” and visuals in my own life??? If the disciples did?….then you can double it in my life…for sure….
Giving God direct eye contact is so extremely important……but it is also important to REFLECT AND REMEMBER…..all that God has done and promises to do for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God does multiply the loaves and fishes for everyone…..we just need to give “direct eye contact” to the ongoing miracles He performs daily…….and be vigilant to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
So many verses talk about remembering. In some the writer is asking God to remember or telling God he remembers what God has done for him. In others God is reminding us that He remembers His promises to us. In 1 Samuel 7:12 we find a stone of remembrance set up, a visual to remind the people of God’s help. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” What reminders do you use to help you reflect and remember all that God has done?
I pray today we all will be able to repeat the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 63:6-7, “When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”