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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Looking People In The Eye

So we've got all these angels in disguise, they hide in clothes of corruption and sin apparently, running all over the planet. What do we do? How do we begin to change our ways and be loving to them? It is the hardest thing to start down the path of love. Especially, when you want to love strangers, not just the church family. A lot of Christian literature tells us that we need to perform huge stunts to show our love to people; set up confession booths, pray for healings, ( and by golly, they better happen) or whatever else. If it's not grandiose, it's not worth it. What about the little things? Being married, I find that it is a little different showing love in real life. On TV it seems as if you can be the biggest jerk, but if you show up with a big bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a teddy bear every once in a while then your good. In a real relationship, however, it's the little things that matter: doing the dishes without being asked, sending surprise love messages over email, asking and anticipating needs.

I recently had a job interview where I was asked many silly questions relating to customer service. In customer service one needs to anticipate needs, be open to helping people, be attentive, be polite and curteous, smile, etc. In essence, you want to show people that they are valued. Being married you do the same things to show your spouse that she or he is valued. Now, this is going to sound really cheesy, and I hate that I'm the one saying it, but... As Christians we need to adopt an attitude of customer service, without the alterior motive of trying to get people to empty their wallets. The key here is that we Christians must do it because we actually value, respect and love people. In customer service many people notice the fake, two-facedness of the interest and respect that is being shown. As Christians we cannot fall into the same trap. If we are nice because we want to convert someone to our point of view, we have lost. People see through that, and it is a sin. A sin, you say? Yes, a sin. Pretending to like someone, and it is pretending when you are only doing it to get them to do something, is lying and deceitful. You have reached the Christian standard when you want to show someone they are valued even if they never hear a word you say, spit in your face, scourge you , and murder you. That kind of patience and respect is called love.

So, how do we open the doors of this love? An easy way, that God has been teaching me through this small town of mine, is looking people in the eye as you walk down the street. I don't know how everybody else feels about this, but for me it's very hard. I'm used to the big city, where people keep their gaze to the ground and ignore each other. It's a form of oppression, we have become afraid of one another; just what the serpent wants. When you meet someone else's gaze it leaves you vulnerable. I believe it's Paul Simon who has a lyric about leaving his house for a stroll, and not turning away from anyone's gaze, he ends up not getting home for two years. Looking people in the eyes is like that, anything can happen. That's why we hate and fear it, we can't stand being vulnerable or facing the unexpected. We need to learn to be open to letting people jump into our lives unexpectedly. That is when we will be able to show love. The other person might be just as uncomfortable with the whole thing, and we need to be willing to be rejected and turned away, hurt and trampled. It might encourage them to open up, a little thing but it makes a world of difference. I know that it's scary to let your guard down, but we are naked in the eyes of our heavenly father, so what does it matter if we bare ourselves a little more before others.

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