“There is life in a look at Him…” – Charles Spurgeon
Eye contact is looking another person in the eye, and without good eye contact, full communication cannot take place. It has been suggested that of all the ways we communicate with people, eye contact is the most important. So many aspects of communication rely on eye contact: attention, intent, conversational turn-taking, etc. When engaging in conversation with someone, you not only hear what they say, you see what they say. If my husband walks away to do something while I’m trying to tell him something, I feel like he is not listening to me. And you just have to think back to your dating days to know that there are those conversations where no words are spoken – everything is communicated with the eyes.
Poor eye contact is one of the most common symptoms of autism. I’m not sure when Rhema began losing her eye contact – somewhere between 12 – 15 months – but we sure knew when it was gone. She has these huge beautiful brown eyes – in fact, when she was an infant she looked kind of freakish to me because her eyes were so big. Now, when she gives good eye contact, it is like a gift, I just want to gaze into those gorgeous eyes. Some people with autism have explained that they avoid eye contact because they cannot always understand facial expressions, which can be distracting and unpredictable, preventing them from focusing on what is being said (link). But eye contact is vital, and especially in young children, the more they see, the more they will learn. Every time Rhema gives us eye contact, a connection occurs.
If you care about a relationship with God, perhaps you should consider how good your eye contact is. I have asked myself the question: How much time have I spent lifting my eyes to the Lord? Sometimes when we are trying to establish eye contact with Rhema, she will avert her eyes and gaze away. I have watched her therapist create “blinders” by putting her hands at the edges of Rhema’s eyes, so that Rhema cannot look anywhere else but into her therapist’s eyes. This always makes me think of how Jesus must often want to put blinders on me. Too often I focus on the circumstances around me instead of looking to Him, or I will regard God with that “peripheral vision” (so common in autism) instead of looking at Him straight on.
How do we get good eye contact with the Lord of Lords? I think, first, perhaps we humble ourselves and say, “Lord, I want to see you. Open up my eyes. Show me your face.” We read our Bibles. We pray. And we look for Him. He will show Himself. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
It’s intimate, no question. The eyes are the doorway to the soul, isn’t that what they say? (Matt. 6:22 says that the eye is the lamp of the body). But if we truly want to know and hear the Lord better, we must look at Him. People with autism are more comfortable looking into the eyes of those with whom they are familiar – the ones they love and trust. So it can be with God. I believe there is so much He wants us to see.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.