“We can give real worth to another person by looking them in the eye and calling them by name.”
~James Paton, First Alliance Church, February 24/25, 2018
I went to see The Greatest Showman recently. I loved it! The music, the dancing, the adventure, the hope of overcoming hardships, the redemptive power of relationships… I loved it all! One of the things that really stuck with me though, was the way P.T. Barnum recruited people to be part of his show. He looked for people living in the shadows, outcast from society and labelled as ‘freaks’, and he invited them to be part of his adventure. He gave them purpose and a sense of belonging. Were his motives pure? Most likely not, but that’s not the point here – stick with me! What struck me was the look on his face when he met someone he wanted in his show. His face shone with wonder and delight! He looked them in the eye, whether that meant getting on his knees or jumping on to a desk, and he saw the potential in them. Being seen, and being delighted in, was absolutely transformative. People who were used to hiding and avoiding eye contact woke up to the beauty of who they were. When they saw themselves in his eyes, they were changed. What a gift!
This is a gift we can give to our children. It is so easy to forget to really see our loved ones. I get so wrapped up in my schedule, my to-do list, that I often forget to look my kids in the eye and simply delight in who they are. This has been especially difficult the last few months as we’ve been navigating a season of grief. I have found myself numb to joy and happiness much of the time. And the kids notice; I remember one of them showing me something they had done, and then asking, “Can you at least smile, Mom?” We all long to be seen and delighted in.
The moment we arrived home from the movie, I bought the soundtrack. So worth it! The kids (and I) have been enjoying it immensely! A couple of nights ago, they set up a stage in the living room and invited me to watch their show. I obliged and was immediately overwhelmed with delight in them. What joy! I couldn’t stop grinning as I soaked in the awesomeness of their performance. It was hilarious and wonderful and I felt myself radiating the delight I felt in that moment.
What stops me from really seeing my children for the absolute wonders of creation they are? My brokenness gets in the way, for sure, as does theirs, but often I’m merely distracted by trivial stuff. I’ve been making more of an effort in recent days to set aside my to-do list, set down my not-so-smartphone, and focus on them. Whether they are building with Lego, creating something brilliant with recyclables, performing a musical extravaganza or reading comics, I can come alongside them, look them in the eye, and take joy in who they are and what they’re doing. The increase of joy in our home, and in me, has been exponential. What a gift!