Mr. Sad Eyes
When I was a kid we had a dog who had the biggest, saddest, brown eyes you have ever seen. He was a master manipulator. If he wanted something, he would look up at you with those big, brown eyes, tilt his head and just know you could not say “no” to him. Though I thought of him as Mr. Sad Eyes, the name he was given by my folks was “Pot-licker”. He got that name because if you set anything down; or if he had opportunity to sneak in the house and there was a pot of food anywhere – it was gone! I can’t count the times I heard my mom yell, in not so nice of a tone, “Pot-licker get out of this house!” He was an outside dog and actually a pretty good cattle dog, but he definitely had a few bad habits. Pot-licker had come to us as a young adult and we never knew why he had developed some of the bad habits he displayed. Besides never seeming to get enough to eat, though he was fed well; besides sneaking into the house uninvited; he was skiddish. We figured someone must have hurt him when he was a pup, but did not know to what extent. As years went by, Pot-licker learned a few boundaries; trusted us more and more and even quit jumping if someone came upon him too quick. But, and I think intentionally, he never lost his ability to manipulate us with his big, sad eyes. I hate to admit it, but he had me wrapped around his little paw ’til the day he died.
I think the reason I have been thinking about that crazy ol’ dog is because lately I have been seeing a lot of really “sad” eyes. I believe the eyes truly are the window of the soul, and if we take the time to look, we can see real pain that people often try to hide. People try to hide their pain in humor; by averting their gaze; through bravado or pride… I especially see the real, honest sadness in the eyes of some of our kids when they first come into our TC program with their moms. Sometimes they won’t look at you and quickly grab for their moms; or sometimes will look straight down and purposely not meet your gaze. None of us will probably ever know the “all” of what they been through or how their experiences have “really” affected them. But we can catch a clue as we take the time to look into their eyes.
One of the greatest joys for me is to see the transformation these kids go through here at TC. As God heals their hurts; as they are in a stable environment; as they see that their voices matter; and that they are “okay” to be who God made them to be – the changes are amazing. No more is there the averting of their eyes!. Instead, their eyes show anticipation. No more do we see them looking straight down! Instead they look you straight in the eye: knowing they are safe; expecting a positive response – not negative. Their eyes show they are ready to face the joys and challenges of a new day. One other thing we see in their eyes as well, is a glint of pure child-like mischievousness that is followed with a lot of giggles and joyful actions.
I want to challenge us today to take the time to pay attention; and to not just pay attention to the “words” or surface responses of those God puts in our lives. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us insight, to see what someone’s eyes are really telling us. That man carrying a sign on the side of the road: maybe he is telling us he has given up on life… He needs Jesus and an hand up – more than a hand out! That single mom who looks so frazzled and who seems to be acting like a crazed Tasmanian Devil… maybe she is saying “help”, I’m going down for the last time. Ask how you can help and HELP! That one who has sinned so big that he or she is just sure no one could ever forgive. Forgive! And be a tool of restoration. Or that shut-in who simply gazes out the window – seemingly looking to see if someone will ever come. Let’s be that one who becomes Jesus with flesh on and “come”. The only way we can help to turn these “sad eyes” into “glad eyes” is to be those who put on our “Father’s Eyes” of compassion.