You may be like me and you see a lot of faces in your daily activity. I am embarrassed to say I am terrible at names but I remember faces. With One Generation Away I see thousands of faces. Some of the faces are volunteers and some are friends that receive food from us. Not all faces are alike, some are rounder than others, smaller than others, different skin colors, etc. One thing is in common behind every face, a heart. I want to encourage you to look at the face of people you see especially take the time to look them in the eyes. Behind that face and those eyes is a heart that yearns for love and compassion. The eyes are a window to the soul.
Behind every face there is a story to be told. This is where the difficulty lies. Once we look at someones face and then the rest of their appearance our automatic judgement mode kicks in. When judgement kicks in our perception is changed in a moment. Judging someone negatively often times diminishes our desire to ask the deeper questions of how are doing today. We assume we know how they feel today and assume how they have gotten to that point. We often also assume that they would like to remain in the same place they are at currently. This could very well be true BUT it could very well false and wrong. What if it is true? Instead of assuming they want to stay in the position they are in. Look at their face and into their eyes and see a human longing for someone to simply care. Ask simple but heartfelt questions into their circumstances. Ask them “can I pray for you?” Then pray for them.
When we serve food I notice that some of the people we serve won’t look me in the eye
because of embarrassment or shame. I always ask them to look at me because I want them to know it’s ok. This is just a season and we are in life together. Life at times is extremely difficult and just glancing at the face of someone allows us to look past what may actually be going on. It is flat out embarrassing to have to receive food because you do not have the resources. We do not want to exacerbate the situation or to shame them either. Imagine having the opportunity to exercise care and concern and change the face of an individual beat down by the cares of this life. That is what we miss when we glance at a face without taking the time and energy to look a bit closer.
I remember a story of a police officer calling me to pick up a couple of emergency food boxes to serve to some children in need. He had received a call because a 4 year old was walking down the street. When he approached the child and asked him what he was doing, he said” I’m hungry and I’m going to McDonalds to get something to eat.” The officer found where he lived with several siblings and a single Mom abandoned by their father and working a low wage job that forced her to leave her kids at home alone. The officer calls me back after delivering the food. He told me I looked at their faces and into their eyes and knew they had not eaten in a few days. How did he know? When he was a kid he often went days without eating himself, so seeing the face of a hungry child is one you never forget. If he had not taken the time to look into their faces and eyes he would have missed the hidden need.
Another time we were delivering some food to a trailer park we often serve. As we delivered the food we found out that one of the children were having a birthday. With much embarrassment the father said they would use tortillas for the birthday cake. Guess what we had a cake on our truck! Our driver went and got the cake and he said you would not have believed the look of pure joy on their faces!
It is amazing what a simple gesture of looking into the face of a person and engaging in conversation can do to impact a life. So, take the time to stop and look at the face and into the eyes and think to yourself how can I show love and encourage this person in front of me.