My mother always taught me to look for beauty in the eyes of others. When you look at the eyes of others, it is a window into their heart, soul, and hope.
As a child growing up, I was picked on a great deal. I was a pale small-framed little girl; I was picked on a great deal. Most people do not believe me, but I was a timid girl and had no confidence at all. I would say I was afraid of everything and everyone. These things added up for an easy target for others to bully.
My parents were older; they were not educated but were the kindest and most giving individuals you would ever know. My mother had some health issues, and she had eyes that were crossed. Looking into the eyes of others was an excellent lesson for her to teach me, as she knew I needed to learn how to look up and not down.
As I continued to grow, people picking on me at school continued. I listened to my mother and did look at the eyes of all of the people who surrounded me each day. They did not always notice my eyes looking at them, but I was taking notes in my mind of what their eyes were telling me.
Many of the kids picking on me had eyes that told me a different story. I could look at them and see emptiness, sadness, anger, hurt, and so much more. I was not sure I was looking the right way. How could this be? These kids were so mean, strong, not afraid, and so popular, I thought.
I went home and thought about what I saw and what I would do with the information I had. Then I remembered that my friend and I sang at the church on Sunday. The song we selected was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The lyrics “Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.” I would do exactly what our song selection was telling us to do.
I want to tell you the teasing and bullying stopped. It did not, but it changed for me. I no longer looked at it in the same way. I needed to continue to look at their eyes and work to help fill them with hope. My purpose would be to show others how to be a friend. My efforts had to be developed, and I needed to work on things, but it is a process. I needed a support system to help me, and I found it with several different people. It was when I got to high school that the shift came to be.
It took some amazing teachers; Mrs. Arnold was one of the standouts to help make the shift in me. I am thankful for the encouragement I received from my church family, teachers, and most importantly, God. Filling eyes with hope is an important part of the work teachers do each day. Please value this part of the work they do, which is not measured in an assessment, but in their lives, the impact which reaches beyond the curriculum taught.
I still look at the eyes of others. Many stories are told without a word being said if you take the time to look deeply. Please do your part in filling them up with the hope we all need as you work to be the solution daily in a world in need.