Soul Focus - When Eyes Meet, Souls Connect
How many people do you see? A strange question but an important one. If you were out and about yesterday, did you see the individuals that passed you? Specifically, did your eyes meet theirs? Did you acknowledge their presence in one small way? I'm thinking about a smile, a turn of your head toward them, a nod, or letting your eyes meet their eyes. Have you thought about the potential impact of a small acknowledgement and how that could be a gift for someone? We can't read hearts or know what's going on in others lives but what if your acknowledgement touched their heart?
I know small acknowledgements make a difference because I've seen it. As I walk the often crowded hallways of the medical center, I choose to deliberately make eye contact with individuals who are coming toward me and give them a smile. I don't stare down people or scare them with a huge toothy smile. I save that for my friends! Kidding aside, there is a proper way to make eye contact. Eye contact should be brief somewhere around 4 to 5 seconds. If it's not acknowledged, we shouldn't sustain eye contact. Did you know brief eye contact (less than 4 seconds) or a glance in a person's direction to show acknowledgement is acceptable in nearly every culture? It's sustained eye contact or staring that may be interpreted as confrontational or disrespectful.
As individuals pass by me in the medical center, I specifically focus on making eye contact with those who look worried, tense, or lost. When they recognize I'm looking at them, more often than not, the person's face changes (their face softens, their eyes or mouth smiles back), they may nod or speak. They realize that I see them. In some instances, the person determines that my eye contact makes me approachable and they will say, "Can you help me?" or "Do you know...". This is one example of the impact of acknowledging that you see someone. When eyes meet, souls connect.
In our busy-ness during the month of December, we have a tendency to look through people or look past people. Even without the additional activities, when we are in each other's physical presence we may fail to look into one another's eyes because we're looking at phones, computers, or anything but the person directly in front of us. Recently, I registered for an appointment and the individual never looked at me until they handed me my paperwork. Their eyes were on the computer the entire time. For the person who has one experienafter another experience where they aren't seen, it can be disheartening. The soul cries out, "Does anyone see me? Does anyone care to see me and who I am?"
At this time of year, we should remember that for some individuals the holidays magnify a sense of depression, loneliness, and anxiety. The end of a year and the beginning of a new one doesn't always provide a reason for celebration and hope. For those whose hearts are hurting, this time of year can intensify their pain. For all the reasons above, you and I need to see the people who pass by, sit next to us, work with us, speak with us, or serve us.
We are all seen--seen by God. Yet, this concept can be difficult to believe by the one who feels they are unseen by the souls who pass through their life. One small act, one soul at a time. You have a chance to be an encourager for the person who is experiencing loneliness, depression, emotional turmoil or a sense of hopelessness. It all starts with being aware of those around you and actually choosing to see someone. It's how we can make a difference.
(Below are links and references for the above content if you want to learn more.)
Note to Self - Be Encouraged
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strength those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities, and make the most of one's resources. --Vauvenargues
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, accounting to what his deeds deserve. Jeremiah 17:10
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References and Information
People at risk: Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the rate of suicide increased with age for widowed, older men? The reasons for the increased risk for older men included financial insecurity, uncertainty about the future, and depression. Older men who are widowed often do not have a strong support system and this is one of the factors for the increased risk for suicide. Having this information helps us more quickly identify those people who may need additional support and help.
Greenlee, K. and Hyde P.S. (2014). Suicide and depression in older adults: Greater awareness can prevent tragedy. Journal of the American Society on Aging, 38 (3), pp. 23-26.