The Eyes of If

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here...--Luke  4.9

High School can be tough, really tough.  All of these physical changes, emotional changes, and social pressures as one desperately tries to discover identity, purpose, and place in the world.  And all of this can come at you pretty fast so that you feel like you are just reacting to everyone around you.

Jeru* had finally got into the high school she wanted, she set out to make new friends and start a new life with all the excitement that comes from new places, faces, and expectations.   Fairly quickly the dye was cast as to who were the popular girls, as cliques were formed and social orders were set in the high school game of value, worth, significance, and importance.

Thinking the best way to make new friends was through extra-curricular activities, she decided to try out for the lacrosse team.  Jeru had never played Lacrosse and was a bit nervous, not knowing how to cradle, throw and catch, or even what the rules were.  She got this really cool hot pink stick, hot pink goggles, and mask, and was set to make her lacrosse debut.

A_________, one of the girls on the LAX team who had played lacrosse before and was popular, observed how Jeru was a novice and eager to fit in.   A_______ started ordering Jeru around, "Get my water."   "Grab my bag and carry it for me."  And the usual mild hazing.  

A couple days into this social-pecking-order-game Jeru stepped to the sidewalk on one of the SF hills where the girls were waiting for the practice field to open up.   She hadn't quite learned how to cradle the ball and A____________ made sport of the fact, knocking her ball out of the stick's pocket so that it rolled down the hill.  The girls laughed, as she ran down the hill trying to get the ball.  The humiliation was now going on its fourth day.   

That night she came home crushed and angry.  

"Whenever I am around that group I feel so ugly inside.  I feel really bad about myself.  Why?  Why are they doing that to me?  What should I do?"

She talked and processed through much of it.  I listened.  I worked really hard at trying to control my emotions, I cannot tell you how angry I was getting.    The usual reflection questions were proferred.  What do you want to do?  What would make this right?  Tell me about this girl?  Why do you want her to be your friend? 

Jeru explained how everyone wanted to hang out with her, and how the girls in that group were liked and viewed as popular.

"Why is it that I want to be around people that make me feel so bad? And how is it that I only feel bad about myself when I am around them?  I don't feel that way when I am with you or mom, or people from church, or family.  Only when I am with them.  And when I am with them I do whatever A___________ asks me to do, even though I don't feel like doing stuff for her.  Why?"

"Interesting," I said, "Let's do an imagination simulator for a moment.   Close your eyes and let's replay what happened on the street.   Let's start with everyone in the crowd.  Tell me who they are from most to least important.  Tell me why they are important, is it their appearance, athleticism, money, brains, personality?    Now replay the what happened and tell me who's laughing and why they are laughing."  

This as always is very telling, very revealing.  But I wasn't done.

"When this happened who's eyes were you really seeing yourself through?  Obviously not all of them, but there probably was one person who you saw yourself through her eyes."


"Here's the thing, Love.  We tend to see ourselves through the eyes of the person that is the most important person to us in that room.   If I was standing there when all of this happened you would have a different emotion.  Because I am more important to you, you would see yourself probably as embarrassed but for a completely different reason.  You would be embarrassed that I saw it, not that it happened to you.  My presence would change the whole event because you would see yourself through my eyes.  The reason we often feel crappy about ourselves and then make crappy decisions and choices with our life is because we live our lives through the eyes of the most dominant person in the room or on the field.   We view our value and worth through the eyes of the most important or significant person in our life in a particular season.   If they see us as crappy, we feel crappy."

Can you think of a time when you acted different based on who was in the room?  How your decisions, worth, personality and thought-processes changed based on who you were present with?   The reason I could speak to Jeru like I did, was I had once witnessed my behavior and sense of self devolve during a one-on-one dinner with a billionaire.  What about you, how do you change based on who's in the room?

The wilderness goes about resetting this shifty nature in our decision-making core, by giving us a sneak peek of our selves through the eyes of the Father and testing that in a non-threatening environment.   One glimpse through the Father's eyes and we value our personality, giftings, uniqueness, and presence as of infinite worth.   This is what the word redemption (revalue) really means.  

I've noticed that when I am not secure in who I am in God I live down to the eyes of the next most powerful, important, significant person in the room.  Usually, this is the person who is higher up the temple's pinnacle.   Approval ratings can be largely based on popularity, who likes or dislikes me, who accepts or rejects me, and before I know it I am making decisions and choices that affect my family and my future based on getting someone's approval.   

My friend's daughter, when she was in first grade, attended a private school.  They didn't have much money.  They saved and worked hard to put her in the school.   She was an only child and the apple of his eye; he doted upon her and bragged on her all the time.  Going into second grade they realized she needed a new uniform; she had outgrown the first-grade one, but they really couldn't afford it.  

So he pulled her aside and said, "Sweetie, this is a big year for you.  You are going into the Second Grade and now we get to take the hem out of your uniform skirt for the second grade.  We are so proud of you.  And so excited to do this for you."

They ceremoniously took the hem out.  And ironed it as best as they could.  The 1-inch hemline could be seen all the way around the skirt.  He said, "I could tell she was proud of all of this because she kept leaning into me as her mom took the thread out to lower the hem.  She couldn't wait to wear that old uniform with the unstitched hemline with pride.

Her confidence eeked out, she acted like Joseph with the coat of many colors, but hers was an unstitched hem.  She wore that skirt with such flair that several of the other girls in the class starting taking the stitching out of their skirts.  They sensed her confidence and wanted that too.   At that age, though they couldn't grasp that was that she got that confidence from her mom and dad, not from her old, too short uniform.  She saw who she really was through her dad's eyes--loved, delightful, joyous.

Who's ever approval we want is the primary shaper of our identity, of who we see ourselves to be. "If you are the son of God..." is Satan's use of the power of suggestion to lure Jesus into considering his sonship as a conditional relationship.   The location of the "pinnacle of the Temple" is an attempt to get Jesus to act and live as though he needs the approval of others to have the approval of God.  The whole episode is an attempt to get Jesus to see, act, and view himself through the eyes of the religious elite, the most important and significant and famous people of Jesus' world.

The Eyes-of-If are those eyes, wherever upon whomever's face they may be, that upon entering into a room cause you to question all the good, beautiful and realness of yourself.   The Eyes-of-If can with one glance make you question the Voice, doubt the Presence, and fear the worst.


Read Devotional.  
Reflection.   What stuck out to you in the reading?  When you are not seeing yourself through God's eyes whose eyes are most dominant in your life?   
Prayer.  Do some lectio divina with Luke 4.9-12
Conversation.  Have a conversation with Cleopas about the Eyes-of-If in your life.


FYI: i have jeru's permission to share the following.