Most of us living through this pandemic have had to wear masks more than we ever have before in our lives. There are a couple of things about masks: number one, they’re uncomfortable; and two, you look funny with a mask on. But the biggest problem I’ve had is that when you're out and about, you can't smile at anybody. Your smile is covered up. It made me realize how much I communicate with a gentle smile. When somebody at the grocery store gets in your way, you smile at them almost to say, “It's okay, it’s not a big deal.” But with wearing a mask, we've lost our smiles. So now we need to look at people's eyes.
Matthew 6:22 says, “The eyes are the lamp of the body.” Another translation says, “Your eyes are a window to the soul.” As you look in people's eyes, you begin to get a sense of who they are and what they're dealing with—if they’re struggling, or if they’re at peace. Your eyes are a window to the heart. It reminds me of the story in Mark of the paralytic being lowered down through the roof. It says, “Jesus knew in his spirit what they were saying in their hearts.” And I wonder how He knew in His spirit. I think it’s because He looked them in the eye.
I was in a meeting recently with a person who I really respect and he wasn’t looking me in the eye. He was constantly looking at the ground or just around the room. I asked him why, and he had had a really troubling experience with something that I could deal with. I wasn’t part of it, but I could deal with it. We spent time praying together and his eyes changed. They went from turbulent to peace. They went from doubting and angry and bitter to holding forgiveness, grace, and repentance. It was awesome. So maybe these masks are good for one thing: they hide our smiles so we have to look people right in the eye.