We are facing a pandemic. A mass “eye infection”, if you will. Eye contact has become a lost art. Instead, our eyes are glued to screens, pages, and every possible distraction rather than locked in with the eyes of another human being. I have sat in rooms filled with hundreds of teenagers locked in to their screens. And the irony….the majority are interacting with one another in the same room…just not face-to-face but rather screen-to-screen.
And as much as I’d love to point the finger at those young whippersnappers or alien-like teens, the fingers would be pointing right back at me, you, and the vast majority of adults. How do you respond to “Mom! Mommy! Mama! YOU!” OR “Dad! Daddy! Dada! Hey, YOU!”? Probably more than once you’ve responded with the monotone “uh-huh,” “yes,” or “what?!?!”. The cell phone, television, book, chores, and more capture our attention and focus. Our kids are guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it. So, is eye contact just a “lost art” that we need to kiss goodbye and write about in our history books?
Let me challenge you to fight to make eye contact a modern art. Yes, you heard me correctly, fight. Try a little experiment. The next time your child wants to talk, be extra intentional in setting aside any and all distractions. Put the phone down. Stop doing whatever you are doing. And engage in full-blown eye contact. How’d it go? There is a good chance it MAY be terribly awkward or uncomfortable…for you, for your child, and for the conversation. Your or your child’s eyes may have darted about the room, unable to maintain eye-to-eye contact. But fight against it. Stay the course! Do not give up!
What may right now start as an uncomfortable practice is SO valuable. If you are not convinced, here are a few benefits to eye contact. First, eye contact clearly communicates that you are listening. I am guilty, far too often, of saying with my words, “I am listening” while I am busy in chores or something else. I mean, I AM listening with my ears BUT my eyes not looking at my child are communicating otherwise. So simple eye contact can simply and powerfully tell your child that you are listening and hearing what they are saying.
Eye contact also can express love, compassion, and empathy. Sometimes you may not have words, and that is ok. Job’s friends practiced the art of just sitting and being with him in times of loss, sadness, and hurt. Sometimes words are actually not required or even desired . Your child may get all the love and support you need communicated through your eye contact.
Finally, eye contact can do the body good AND spread God’s love. Matthew 6:22 outright says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Eye contact is a simple way to exercise your eyes and keep them healthy. And as you give eye contact to your kids, spouse, friends, and co-workers you will be shine the light of God. Who knew that eye contact could be an evangelistic tool? I dare you to take on the challenge today and make eye contact a modern art again before it is too late. I’m in…are you?