“The eye is the lamp of the body…”
This is an excerpt from something Jesus once said when he was up on a hill preaching to masses of curious and hungry people. People hungry for the truth—desperate for something to hang their lives on. He went on to say how when our eyes are healthy, our whole bodies will be full of light, but if our eyes are bad, we will be full of darkness. How important, then, must our eyes be!
I have thought about these verses lately. I have read about different interpretations of what the words could actually mean. Recently, my good friend Katy shed some pretty profound light on the subject illustrated so beautifully by an encounter she had. You can go ahead and read that here: http://metaphorandmeaning.blogspot.com/2015/03/windows-to-soul-why-i-write-part-2.html
Now, before Jesus said these words, he was talking about where our treasures lie. Do we place worth on our treasures here on Earth, where they will eventually be destroyed, or are our most precious treasures stored in Heaven where they will last forever? I believe this topic has so much more to do with the heart than with money or possessions. Where is our devotion? Where is our love? Are we confident enough in who we are to even be able to place more value on eternal things than in the things that give us security here on Earth?
That last question leads me to the subject I wanted to hit on, which has to do with the significance of our eyes—more specifically, the way we see. I believe that how we see ourselves determines the outcomes and the perspectives of nearly everything in our lives. We live out of our core—or what we believe about who we are and where we stand. In an earlier post, I wrote about seeking approval. We first must determine whose approval we are seeking when trying to discover what we believe about ourselves. Because when we seek approval that we can never gain through all our “good” efforts, we will always end up disappointed in ourselves.
We will always believe that no matter what we do, we’ll just never be good enough.
It is this kind of thinking that pushes us to find value elsewhere—in possessions and outward beauty and lifestyles that make people look at us a certain way, even if they’re getting a false view of who we really are. We hide behind these “treasures” because we’re afraid that who we are is not good enough. But when we live this way, we lack true connection and relationship. We relate with people and even with God out of this person that we’re pretending to be, and so it’s never real.
And so we always feel alone.
The paradox is this—we want to be understood and known, but because of our false beliefs that say rejection is in order if we bare our souls, fear holds us in this prison of pretense. But what if our eyes changed? What if we saw what our Father sees? What Jesus sees? There is a story in the Gospels that paints a beautiful picture of what it looks like when someone absolutely knows where her treasure resides and therefore is not afraid to uncover her heart in a passionate display that she probably knows others won’t understand or condone. I believe the only way she was able to do this was because of the way Jesus had looked at her, and how she received and maybe mulled over that look until her own eyes changed.
“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 ESV
Judas (and probably the others in the house) didn’t understand this act. He saw it as a waste when the money from selling the perfume could have been given to the poor. But Jesus sees differently than we do. Jesus saw Mary’s heart. He saw her devotion and love—he saw this woman made blameless by his own affection towards her despite her previously sinful lifestyle. He saw that her identity and her treasure was in him, making her unafraid to expose her true self in front of people who still possessed judging eyes.
For those of us who are writers and artists, I believe that a natural part of our calling is, as many of us have heard, to “bleed on the page,” or “bleed” on the canvas or the dance floor or the stage. Being an artist is a dangerous yet glorious calling. And those of us who are not afraid to expose our truest selves to the world will be the ones with the greatest influence. The story of Mary anointing Jesus is one that was important enough to be recorded and now included in countless messages and books. Vulnerability lasts. Because vulnerability opens doors in people’s hearts to dare to be their truest selves, which is what we all really want. Pretending gets tiring really fast.
The thing about “bleeding” into your art is that it opens you up for judgment, rejection, praise, or whatever. People can just trample all over your deepest beliefs and experiences without a second thought. But if we have the right eyes (if we are confident in where we stand, in the love of Jesus), we will not allow ourselves to be moved by any reaction or judgment from other people. Just like Mary. The people who have the greatest legacies throughout history are the ones who acted despite what people thought or could do to them.
As illustrated in Katy’s example, I want to be that person who has clear eyes to look at someone and just love them. That they would actually see love in my eyes. The only way to do this is to first see myself through the eyes of Jesus—those eyes that see a blameless daughter of value, a heart worthy of affection, protection, and love.
When our eyes are good, our whole bodies will be full of light. And light exposes the truth in others.
Let us, therefore, be who we are.