I remember the first time I knew that I loved the woman that would be my future wife. I remember the day she told me that she was pregnant for the first time. I remember holding my son just seconds after he took his first breath. I remember this one moment in time when my two little girls hugged me on Easter morning, in their matching dresses, and mommy snapped a photo. I remember all these and many more, through love’s eyes.
Relationship experts speak of our ability to view any particular situation differently and because of this ability we can either remember it fondly or not. Our current emotional feelings towards a person can actually shape the way in which we view our current, and even past, situations. Anger, fear, and disappointment in our current relationship actually changes the focus of our sight from the positive to the negative. Those same memories above can be totally forgotten or changed to reflect a story completely different from the one I remember now. Yes, we have that type of power over the stor
y of our lives.
The power of viewpoints
However, this power of sight is not only meant to be contained to our relationships within our family and friends. Our conscious choice to view the world around us with compassion, hope, and dare I say even love, has a profound impact on us more than anything else. It is not that we are actually changing the situation we find ourselves in; it is that we are changing ourselves in the situation. When we change our viewpoint the problem no longer looks insurmountable and the people no longer look like enemies. The Bible says it like this, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Contrary to popular opinion, love is not blind. Love is the very truest sight that we possess. It is our ability to see beyond what appears on the outside and see what God sees within each and every one of us. Love turns the normal and mundane into something extraordinary. It is the difference between a girl and a wife, a new baby and a son, a simple hug and a family. It is also the difference between the homeless and Tino or Julia or Taneesha. Love sees beyond the situation in front of us to the person in need.
Perceptions of poverty
In the 2012 “Perceptions of Poverty” report, a survey commissioned by The Salvation Army nationally, it was revealed that in America:
49% believe a good work ethic is all you need to escape poverty.
47% believe if we gave poor people more assistance, they would take advantage of it.
43% believe if poor people really want a job, they can always find one.
29% believe poor people usually have lower moral values.
27% believe people are poor because they are lazy.
Misconceptions blind us
None of these beliefs are accurate or tell the whole story of poverty and homelessness. When the mind’s picture of homelessness is isolated to a few rare situations of moral depravity and laziness, we are blinded to the true systemic causes of poverty and ultimately homeless themselves. The true causes of homelessness include health issues (physical, mental and addiction), income disparity and ultimately the breakdown of the family.
These are all issues that, when seen through the lens of love, open up a wide realm of possibility and life transformation. We can see what Jesus sees in the eyes of the poor. We can see Tino and all the potential that his life holds and walk the journey with him to restoration. Love is what produces HOPE. It is what changes the moment into a story. Love is not blind; it is what allows us to truly see.
Robin Martin is executive director of HOPE South Florida, a non-profit organization serving homeless and hurting individuals and families through partnerships with churches and community services. He can be reached at [email protected]