The Eye of the Beholder
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
– Ecclesiastes 1.8
Years ago, my Dad was recovering from Lymphoma and months of chemo with radiation. His health and strength were returning and I found my role as caretaker fading. This was strangely bittersweet. On one hand, seeing my Dad win a battle that seemed impossible gave us all a measure of relief that goes beyond description or expression of gratitude. While, on the other hand, the purpose, meaning, and significance of my own life had never felt so clear, and that was going away. Being there for he and my Mom in their time of absolute need had been the most spiritually satisfying experience of my life. I knew from that point on what I will spend the rest of my life trying to attain again.
One morning, I was walking and realized that the experience of love and selflessness I stumbled upon was exactly what I had been searching for my entire life, subconsciously. It was the most whole and complete I had ever felt! When I looked back on my life, I saw how badly I’ve used and manipulated friends, family, religion, and strangers to try to meet this internal craving. It broke my heart. I never want to return to that way of living. Ever.
I saw that I had been trying to find an external solution to an internal problem. That was where change needed to take place in order to ensure my never returning to my selfish behaviors. I needed to rewire my mode of operation, if you will. Or redirect my rushing stream of consciousness.
Love is an internal condition. As is peace. And joy. And gratitude. And gentleness. And kindness. Not to mention, the kingdom of God. These are all things that find their manifestation within. But we go about our entire lifetimes trying to construct them externally.
The most wonderful secret about this is, once love has taken up residence internally, you see it everywhere externally. Once the kingdom of God is maintained and nurtured internally, you see it everywhere externally. You know that saying, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? I believe it. And I believe it applies to Christ. When Christ is in the eye of the beholder, the beholder sees Christ everywhere she/he looks.
When our internal needs and demands are met or transformed, we experience an amazing liberation from subconsciously demanding everyone else to satisfy them for us. We see our friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and enemies differently, more purely. It creates the ability to truly love.
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man.
– Proverbs 27.19
If you or I are chaotic, restless, or agitated, it is only a reflection of our heart, our internal condition. Let’s start there rather than blame those around us for our behavior or emotions. When we decide to do this we finally encounter the kingdom of God within.
People can't observe the coming of the kingdom of God. They can't say, 'Here it is!' or 'There it is!' You see, the kingdom of God is within you.
– Jesus, Luke 17.21/22