In high school one of my favorite movies was “Save the Last Dance.” (Okay, so maybe I can still recite it line by line when I watch it.)
There’s a scene where good friends Chenile & Sarah are sitting in the waiting room of a free clinic having a conversation about “different worlds.” The room is full of sick screaming kids like Chenile’s son and young parents who are at their wits end as they wait to see a doctor. At one point Chenile says to Sarah:
“You wanna be a friend? Don’t just be here to be here. Open up your pretty brown eyes & look the hell around.”
“Don’t just be here to be here.”
Don’t go through life half asleep, wake up. Don’t stay numb, feel. Don’t just survive, thrive. Don’t just look, see.
In our always on, always running, uber-connected world it’s easy to just be here. All of the noise makes it hard for the eyes of my heart & soul to see the grace in every moment. And on those days when my heart & soul are having trouble seeing, I’m particularly grateful for eyes that lead me to worship, eyes that can help me to slow time if I will open them up & look around…if I will choose to see.
It’s the discipline of seeing…of opening up my eyes & looking around…that helps me to do more than just be here to be here. It’s what helps me to be fully present in any given moment. I have to train my eyes to slow me down, to cause me to pause and soak in the beauty that surrounds me, to take the time to see people & to make people feel seen, to see God’s goodness in every moment of the good days & the bad.
What habits & disciplines help you do more than simply be here?
The weather in Nashville this week has been Spring perfect – 80 degrees & sunshine until mid to late afternoon at which time thunderstorms roll in. Around 8pm the rain clears out & the perfectly cool Spring evenings take it’s place. The weather I’d have in heaven if it was up to me. :)
This week has also been challenging. I’ve been restless. Unfocused. Frustrated that I can’t grip life neatly in my two hands. But there’s been a reminder in the middle of every single one of those thunderstorms – there is beauty not just on the other side of but in the middle of the storm…of the restlessness, the frustration, the questions…if I will only seek it out.
Yes, beauty in, not just on the other side of. It’s easy to believe in beauty on the other side because it comes to us. It drops itself into our hands & becomes tangible. But beauty in the middle of the storm…in the hard places…it must be searched for, hunted down, & taken hold of. It requires choosing to believe, to rely on faith, & to call on hope with courage.
But, if I’m going to believe in a God who makes beautiful things out of the dust I have to believe in a God who makes beautiful things out of the falling building as it is in the process of crumbling to pieces. A God who promises not freedom from the storm but peace in the middle of it. Who offers hope in the middle of the hurt not just in the healing. Who makes the sun shine even as the rain comes pouring down. A God who says I know the journey is painful right now but I’m not going to let you walk it alone.
What beauty do you see the middle of your storm right now? Have you found it?
“I’ll sing the song if you can play it on the guitar,” he said.
A google search later on a nearby iPhone & chords were in the guitar player’s hand.
“Let’s do it,” she said.
He stumbled through the first few notes…off-key & out of rhythm. Forgetting the words as he went. It was an embarrassing train-wreck in the making. A potential ego boost for the rest of the room.
But they chose to rewrite the ending of this story.
First the guitarist joined in, then the redhead on the couch, another “I love to sing but I’m not a singer” guy, next the long-haired blonde with an accent…soon the entire group was singing. A classic that had high school flashbacks playing in all of our minds.
Instead of embarrassment the ending was one of community. When he began to stumble…to lose the melody…the group quickly stepped in to carry him along for a bit. It may sound silly, but I see Jesus in these moments clear as day. His love & his life feel tangible for just a moment.
I can’t guarantee you that all of those people in the room knew who Love is, but they certainly seemed to know what it means to live love. And I have a group of strangers to thank for helping me see Love just a bit more clearly…if even only for a moment.
What is that line from Spiderman? “With great power comes great responsibility.”
I’m beginning to learn that the same is true with seeing. When you eyes are opened there is no going back. With seeing comes responsibility.
Responsibility to act.
To share what you see.
To speak the truth in love.
To live the truth in love.
To be patient & sit in the tension between the old reality & the new.
Seeing is information…knowledge. And knowledge forever changes things. Information changes the reality that once was & there is no going back to the way things were. I’m discovering that part of seeing is also learning how to redefine & navigate a new reality in light of what is seen.
And that may be the hardest part of all.
What do you do when you don’t want to see?
I honestly hadn’t thought about it. I hadn’t considered that there’d come a moment when I didn’t want to see. It’s one thing to be unaware…to not see because your eyes haven’t yet been opened to things. And that was a challenge I anticipated this year. But it’s another to have open eyes which you choose to close because you don’t want to see.
The introvert in me can become quite selfish in relationships. It reaches a breaking point at which it chooses to see no one but itself. It doesn’t want to see that there are other people who need connection even if it doesn’t. In those moments, I often choose not to see. I choose not to see because I don’t want to see. Seeing is particularly hard & messy in those moments. Seeing is exhausting in those moments. Seeing feels like taking one step forward only to take 4 giant leaps backwards.
This past week was one of me not wanting to see. Of more often than not choosing to close my opened eyes because seeing just felt too hard & I was tired of hard. Then I got a note from a dear friend. And I saw. I saw that I’d been refusing to see. Sometimes it takes being seen to make you realize you’ve been choosing not to see & I am grateful for friends who do just that for me – who remind me that I am seen even if I think I’m not…even if I try not to be.
Do you ever not want to see? What do you do in those moments?
S-e-e. Three simple letters. And although I haven’t quite sorted it all out in my head just yet, I think part of the key to fully living lies in those three letters…learning how to really see. To see God’s goodness, to see others, & to see myself…all honestly – the good & bad.
Seeing inspires gratitude. It fuels courage. Fosters growth. Builds trust. And banishes fear.
Seeing strengthens community. It encourages others.
Seeing gives birth to dreams. And it leads to action.
Seeing requires slowing down. It means choosing to be vulnerable.
To see is to surrender assumptions & “the way it’s always been” in order to discover what really is.
Seeing is risky. But I believe it’s a risk that is life-giving. So for 2012, my one word, my goal, is to see. To really truly sincerely see. To discover how the eyes of the soul see.
Do you have a word for 2012? I’d love to hear it!