In a recent TV show, a female police officer was preparing to go undercover as a prostitute. Part of her preparation involved an exchange with an actual prostitute. The prostitute approach the officer and asked her if her daddy ever touched her when she was a little girl. Then the prostitute looked closely at the officer and said, “Turn the light off in your eyes.” The officer did her best to look as if her eyes were void of light and hope.
What a sadly realistic way to describe the emotionless expression of someone whose childhood and life had been sexually violated.
We all know what sad eyes look like but what does it look like when the light is turned off in someone’s eyes?
Have you ever noticed what people show or don’t show with their eyes? A photographer once told me to smile with my eyes. “Is it possible,” I asked, “to smile with your face but not with your eyes?”
Recently one of our Chinese exchange students visited a friend from his previous year in the United States. When he returned home, I asked how his visit went and he expressed deep concern for his friend because she appeared, in his words, “to be hiding something behind her eyes.” I asked what he meant by this expression and he explained that a when person who is a friend doesn’t look directly at you or shifts her eyes as you speak, it appears that she is feeling bad or ashamed of something. “Her eyes told me that something was not right,” he said.
All of this makes me think of Jesus’ words, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34).
The eye allows the entrance of light or darkness and affects the whole body. Healthy eyes reveal a body full of light; bad eyes show pervasive darkness. What is on the inside often shows through oureyes.
The eye is the lamp of the body in the sense that it allows light to enter our lives, but our eyes can also reveal a lack of light — exposing deeper troubles of our hearts.
Our Chinese exchange student learned that his friend’s life had turned in a bad direction. Although she didn’t volunteer this information without a little probing on his part, what she hid behind her eyes said enough to make him ask if everything was all right with her. We should all learn to listen to others with our ears and our eyes.
I felt sadness when the prostitute told the cop to turn the light off in her eyes. But I’ve also watched God’s grace restore light to the eyes of victims of abuse. The Psalmist prayed, “Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die” (Psalm 13:3).