Monday, August 20, 2007

Look at me

Imagine the scene: You see him from across the courtyard; his body is limp, and his face is etched with hopelessness, as two strong men carry him. He’s big and heavy, and the men struggle under the load, finally setting him down next to the gate near where you’re standing. The crippled man keeps his eyes down, and holds his hands out, hoping to earn enough money through begging to eat today. You watch from a distance, and then walk over to talk to the man. “Look at me,” you say. And then you give this man what you have: the power of Christ to work in his life.

I often imagine myself in the scene of scripture to try to capture the beauty and power of the passage. I’m no theologian, but this scene at the beginning of Acts 3 moves me to tears. Today I imagined from a different perspective: that of Peter instead of the crippled beggar.

I immediately thought of my friend,Kathy Bolduc. Her book His Name is Joel, chronicles her journey as a Mother with a child who is autistic. I met Kathy at a writer’s retreat, and her powerful story has stayed with me. One of the things she discusses in her book is how churches can reach out to families who have children with special needs. Expecting to find information on how to form a committee or special program, I was surprised to find her simple advice: accept this child. Welcome him or her into your faith community. Look them in the eyes and talk to them.

I thought of this advice today. Too often, we look away from need. It makes us uncomfortable, especially when we can do nothing to fix it. But as a follower of Jesus, I need to look people in the eyes. I need to see from His perspective, instead of my own.

I cannot offer a solution to the problems of the world, but I can give people this simple dignity: look at me. And I pray that as they do, I will reflect the acceptance and love of Christ.

11 comments:

Jenny from Chicago said...

That is a powerful post. You gave me an insightful moment, thanks.

Ellen said...

Thank you. My son has Down Syndrome and the most important thing our church family has given us is their love and acceptance. They know that Elijah has special needs and cheer for his successes, but mostly they simply treat him as a typical child, loving him unconditionally and incorporating all of us into the life of the church.

Your post is also a reminder for me to treat other people with dignity and love. I need to remember to look at people, even when I am feeling shy or uncertain. At the very least, a friendly smile is better than averting my gaze and shuffling away.

L.L. Barkat said...

This brings to mind a poem I once read by a homeless man in NYC. More than anything else, what he wanted was someone to look into his eyes. I've never forgotten that. It reminds me too of how Hagar named God, "the God who sees me." If we are little Christ's then might we not also be little-ones-who-see?

Andrea said...

I do like that advice. *Look* at the need. We so often turn because it feels impossible to help. But we can. Good post.

Llama Momma said...

Jenny - I'm glad you found something of value here.

Llama Momma said...

Ellen - God has so much to teach all of us in the body of Christ through one another. Thank you for sharing.

Llama Momma said...

LL - Yes. To be seen is a deep longing we are often unaware of until we are invisible, as that man in NYC was.

Llama Momma said...

Andrea -- there is power in looking and truly seeing another person. Thank you for your comment.

spaghettipie said...

Your thought echoes what I recently read in the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. He talks about putting a face on "issues"...that when we do that, we can't ignore them any more. When we see people as God's creation, and His creation as He loves, then we can learn to appreciate them no matter what their circumstance. Looking into someone's eyes creates an intimacy, a connection. It's scary, but I don't really want to live disconnected from God's creation. Thanks for your words. I'll definitely be pondering them over the next few weeks.

upwords said...

Thanks for that. Wonderful thought. Sometimes seeing is harder than believing.

blessings,
mary

Llama Momma said...

SP -- I'll have to check that book out!

Mary -- thanks for stopping by!