Do You See What I See?

So, I used to have this problem at work.

It’s my job to oversee the people who staff our workout rooms and to enforce our policies with members. For months, I would emerge from having spent an hour in the room only to have one of my colleagues mention something like “Did you remind that staff person that he’s not allowed to wear jeans?” or “Are you going to let that man lift weights in flip-flops?” or “Should that lady be running on the treadmill in clogs?”

We have rules regarding safe clothing choices and proper attire for staff. I agree with the policies and I have no discomfort enforcing them. So what’s the problem? I didn’t know at first but eventually I realized I had a vision problem. I just never noticed what people were wearing! It’s not something I naturally see.

I’m not oblivious to people, in fact, I’m very tuned in but here’s the deal – I’m tuned into faces. I pay little to no much attention to clothing. About thirty seconds after I walk into the workout room, I can tell you who’s having a bad day, who’s flirting with someone, who is over-exerting themselves, who wants attention and who doesn’t, who’s having an argument and who is too tired to be there but everyone of them could be wearing scuba suits and flippers for all I know!

This awareness finally helped me to understand why I could come out of a meeting with a coworker and say something like “Did you notice how upset so-and-so was at this change?” and hear them reply “Was that the guy in the yellow shirt?” Then me: “I don’t know what he was wearing. I just know he was upset.” Then them: “I didn’t notice anyone being upset.”

All of us tune in on different things. We physically see the same thing but we filter all that information through lenses that are focused on wildly different details.

The solution at work was to retrain myself to see things I don’t naturally see. Now whenever I enter the workout room I literally do a scan of everyone’s footwear, then I do a scan of their attire and THEN I release myself to see faces. For me, it’s like spending a few moments speaking in French before I resume communicating in my native tongue but I’m becoming more and more fluent in my second visual language.

That’s how it is with the kingdom of God.

The truth of God – that He exists, that He is good and that He rewards those who seek Him, is all around us. Paul says in Romans 1 that “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” The truth of God is clearly VISIBLE but often goes unseen by those whose eyes are not tuned to looking for it.

There are many reasons for this particular blindness. I don’t notice what people wear because I just don’t care. That’s one reason people don’t see the evidence of God. Some of my staff intentionally don’t notice what people wear because they don’t want to have to confront them. That’s another reason people blind themselves to the evidence of God – they know that facing the truth will require confronting other issues in their lives. For others it’s a matter of education, they don’t see things because they don’t know what to look for like a doctor or an artist or a criminal investigator. Our call to bear witness is one way we help train others to see the truth of God in this world.

There is also a spiritual blindness that is a by-product of enslavement to sin, a sort of demonic residue that forms from habitually turning one’s back on God. I think this is what Jesus referred to in Matthew 6 when He said “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. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” This particular blindness must often be forced to yield through focused prayer, fasting and a continual assault of the truth.

As I grow older, my physical eyesight is worsening but as I mature in Christ, my spiritual vision improves. I see God everywhere and I see opportunities to impart His grace, to share His love, to speak His truth and to tell His story more and more each day.

I trained myself to see what people wear.

If you are someone who doesn’t see God yet, be open to the possibility that your vision can change.

If you’re reading this, I’ve already prayed that will begin to happen for you.

Do you see what I see? I pray that you do.

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cheri says:

    Lori,

    The creativity in your posts continues to astound me. God has certainly gifted you to communicate truth in a unique and appetizing way; you keep me coming back for more.

    Thanks!
    Cheri

  2. Cheri, I really needed that encouragement tonight. Thank you!

  3. I am so like you! I am absolutely aware of all sorts of nuances given off by the people around me, but don’t ask me what they’re wearing. And though I can easily remember the expressions in people’s eyes, I can’t tell you their eye color.

    I remember when my husband and I were dating. I got so embarrassed because people would ask me his eye color, and I didn’t know it! I eventually had to memorize the sentence, “His eyes are brown.” I can picture all sorts of nuances of expression, but that’s all that really matters to me. Color just doesn’t get through my filter.

  4. Heather says:

    Great analogy, Lori!