Good Deeds, Done Expensively

The works of your hands are faithfulness and justice;

 all of your precepts are sure.

They stand fast forever and ever,

 because they are done in truth and equity. 

Psalm 111:7-8

My daughter spent what felt like five minutes looking at my hand after I had surgery to repair the tendons I severed with a butter knife in March of 2020, but given that she was nearly two, it was probably more like thirty seconds than five minutes. She was looking at the zig-zag incision that was at this point still stitched with what I call her “Science Face”. It’s the face my bride has when she’s working on something engineerish or mathy, both technical terms, I assure you. 

After studying my wound and processing it for about 30 seconds, she covered it with her hand and said, “Hurt.” 

“Yes, hurt.”

“Owie.”

“Yep, owie.”

Now in standard toddler fashion, she later decided it would be interesting to see what would happen if she smacked my hand — all in the name of science, I’m sure — but it was interesting to watch her make the connections and then casually walk away to play. She gave me a real moment of connection and then went about her business. 

It’s fascinating to think of how seldom we get that true attention from adults. How often is someone talking to us while looking at their phone or watching TV? It’s frequent enough that it doesn’t really feel like being ignored, and most of the time we’re probably doing the same thing ourselves, so this kind of half-attention is fairly acceptable behavior. But then there are those Moments.

You’re speaking with another person and your eyes lock in a moment of mutual recognition, creating what feels like a vulnerable interaction. It can be somewhat breathtaking with someone you love, and even then it can at first feel weirdly uncomfortable until you step into the awkward space to join them and make it feel normal. It’s really weird when it happens with someone you don’t know well. When that happens, a lot of times the shock of connection causes us to break eye contact and back away from this vulnerable possibility. 

What’s weird is that this isn’t really romantic (unless it is), but it does feel surprisingly intimate. I wonder why this is something we’ve learned to shy away from so quickly. We seem to avoid anything that might lead us into deeper understanding, deeper engagement, deeper self-revelation and connection with other people. Think about how jarring it is for someone to respond with something other than “fine” when you ask, “How are you?”. Even a question literally asking about what someone’s current condition is promotes an attitude of low key disinterest even if you care if they’re not fine.

Maybe it’s because these interactions, these connections, these Moments may be free, but they don’t come cheap. I think a lot of times we’re afraid that if we maintain that suddenly-awkward eye contact, if we give an honest answer to “how are you?” — if we allow that connection to remain — then that person will see whatever it is we’re afraid of them seeing because even though it’s not written on our face for others to see, it’s certainly written on our hearts.

“Hurt. Owie”. So simple, so disarmingly honest. It’s endearing and exposing, and it makes you want to draw close and back away because we all want more than anything else both to be known and to be able to hide our pain simultaneously. 

The love of God is like this: exposing; disclosive; vulnerable.

I think this is why so many people don’t like the idea of individual confession. If we have to voice the reality of our Sin and sins to God with the help of a pastor, it means we have to take a hard look at their reality for ourselves and spend that time trying to figure out what to do when we don’t like what we see. It’s hard to develop vulnerability with others when we have trouble being vulnerable with ourselves. Sometimes we shy away because we’re not prepared for The One Who Won’t Look Away, no matter what they see written on our hearts, and for the truth facing us when we see ourselves in the mirror of those eyes.

But as with other things in life, perspective is everything.

I look at a picture of myself and feel like I look fat, but my bride sees it and tells me I look handsome. 

I see in God’s eyes all the things I wish I weren’t, but God looks in mine and sees everything I’m being created to be even if that isn’t realized yet within me. Love sees potential and hope even when we can’t see it for ourselves.

What is God seeing in your eyes this week?

What more might you see if you don’t look away?

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