(Original post date June 2019)
I first thought of this after watching the movie Wonder. When Julia Roberts told her disfigured son that if people could only see what was on the inside, they would see nothing but beauty. (paraphrasing)
Sometimes I think those who have been born blind have an advantage over those of us with sight. They say that when one sense doesn’t function the other senses are heightened. So for the blind that would be: hearing, smell, taste, touch, and responsive awareness—our sixth sense, or the “feelings” we experience from our environment.
Since a blind person’s eyes can’t help them make a decision about another person (or situation), the brain takes what it can use: sounds—the words the person says, their tone of voice, and the inflections (mood or emphasis). Smell—is it foul or pleasant? Then it begins to channel these things into its most powerful (and underdeveloped in the sighted) asset in the human body, responsive awareness. Some call it insight, or intuition, or a “gut feeling”. I like to think responsive awareness takes what it does know from sound and smell and then moves it to the heart or our soul and then the soul (the much wiser part of us that is directly connected to God) decides if the person is safe, kind, and genuine (authentic). The three qualities that truly matter.
Then the blind person does something else that as sighted humans we would never do. They ask permission to touch the other person’s face so they can “see” them. Touch enhances responsive awareness in a way no other sense can. Touch allows us to enter another human’s bubble and deepen the connection to “feeling” the true print of their heart or soul.
Now, I’m not suggesting we go out and start asking to touch people’s faces so we can truly “see” them. But rather to take a few seconds and mentally close your eyes. If you can’t “see” them for their outward appearance, you have to awaken the dormant, much wiser, responsive awareness inside and try to see them as they truly are. If you want to utilize touch, then a handshake or a hug can help deepen the connection—if and only if you can do it with your “eyes closed” and your heart open.
What would the world be like if we had to close our eyes the first time we met anyone? What would happen if we couldn’t make our first impression on what we see with our eyes? If we couldn’t see skin color, or gender, if they were skinny, or “fat”, if they had tattoos or multiple piercings, what their hairstyle choice was (or wasn’t), or how expensive or “cute” their clothes are?
Would we look a little deeper, would we go more by what we feel in our hearts—that connection that says we are all children of God equally loved, equally accepted, irregardless of any—ANY—factor?
I was listening to a song on the radio the other day, a song I absolutely LOVE. I remember thinking, “Man I love this song! If only the artist wouldn’t dress like such a slut I’d probably like her more.”
Instantly, I was brought up short. As I work toward overcoming perfectionism and people-pleasing I’m becoming more and more aware of authenticity. Of the beauty of being myself and allowing others to do the same. If dressing that way feels authentic to her, then who am I to judge?
Who am I to judge?
Would I ever dress that way? No. Why? Because it isn’t me. I would never feel comfortable showing my body that way. The feminist in me—who desperately wants women to be seen as more than a sex symbol—absolutely cringes at the thought. If I did it wouldn’t be authentic. It would be me trying to be like someone else. But it is her right to do what feels authentic for her, that feels true to herself. And maybe showing her body that way is her way of expressing her love for femininity. Do I like it? No. Do I have to like it? No. That is my right. But do either of these questions really matter? Only in how I conduct myself. How I live my personal beliefs and allow others to do—the—same.
Which leads me to one other place where I truly envy the blind. That they also must live their faith by what they hear and feel not by what they see.
What would the world be like if we had to close our eyes and just listen and feel with our hearts the core truths of our beliefs? Whether they be in God, Jesus Christ, Budda, Muhammad, thousands of Hindu gods, or all the others out there? What would it be like if we couldn’t see how our neighbors chose to worship so we couldn’t compare it to ourselves to decide who is better, or who is right?
What would it be like to just love our God (whoever that may be) with all our hearts, and tried to be like Him? What would it be like if we didn’t spend so much time trying to conform to the behaviors and attitudes we see of those around us and just lived and loved to the very best of our individual and unique ability?
What would it be like if we were more concerned with our children’s hearts, to their well being, in teaching them to have self love, be true to themselves, to never be afraid to stand up for what they believe in, rather then trying to force them to be our version of “good enough”? Who are we honestly trying to help when we do that? Are we really trying to help them, or are we trying to make ourselves look like we’re great parents?
What would the world be like, what would we be like if we closed our eyes and opened our hearts?
The journey to authenticity is not an easy one. But I think one way to begin is to walk for time with your “eyes closed” and really think about what you “see”. What sort of qualities truly begin to matter, and what other things start to fall away? It’s a real challenge trying to get comfortable with embracing my true self. It’s something I will likely battle with for the rest of my life. But, I truly hope and pray that moving forward I can do a better job at “closing my eyes” to the first physical impressions and opening my heart so I can better see the beauty in every single person I meet.
1 Samuel 16:7
“…Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”