Tag Archives: Spiritual Transformation

The Lord Looks at the HEART

“The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes. ” ― Pema Chödrön
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  — 1 Samuel 16:7

This Good News is on my heart this Advent, as I ponder the grace born anew in our world because of the birth of Jesus Christ.

I’m savoring Gospel stories where we feel his ability to REALLY SEE the potential and need in those he healed.  Beyond the trappings of gender, class, health status, nationality, religion, etc.   I’m sobered by his preaching which warned us of the consequences of thinking too much about the outward appearances of status and respect.

In light of the forgiveness teaching and coaching I do, I would add that sometimes we look at the “outward appearance” of the mistakes we or others make, and can even get trapped there in the Ego’s world of ceaseless judgment.    When I walk with churches and non-profits seeking to grow, I sometimes find this related longing as  people look at the outward appearance of things, rather than – with the Lord’s eyes — looking at the heart of the people involved.  Our outward postures or plans often disguise the longings of the heart.  I think often we all struggle even with seeing OURSELVES with eyes of compassion.

I was blessed recently to hear James Alison’s fresh teaching on the “pantry” (prayer closet).  Our time away in prayer is rewarded with true life transformation precisely because that is where we can really be ourselves with God, while in the world we endlessly relate to Others for the sake of their pleasure or respect.  And we thus concern ourselves with the outward appearances…

Jesus was simply The Human One (“Son of Man”) and revealed to us what we can be in him: people who see the heart of the matter, who are able to increasingly live from the Heart which His Spirit makes new.  People who see others’ hearts and judge with increasing compassion and wisdom (not judgment) the matters and choices of this world.

One recent resource I’ve been treasuring is a book called Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristen Neff.    Find out more at Neff’s website.   In Christian terms, this path of practicing “self” compassion is, I think, simply the course of unlearning human judgments of self and growing in our capacity to FEEL and INTEGRATE the transforming truth of the grace Jesus brings.

A tough question for many churches: Are we places which nurture this encounter with grace? Or, do we get in the way?

I pray that during this Advent you will find grace breaking into and disrupting the stresses and judgments and pressures of this world in which we live.  It takes TIME to slow down and see with the Lord’s heart.  We just need to be alert and awake to see…