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Just a look

By Ann Mann

Just a look. Our parents have an uncanny ability to communicate with us using just a look. Whether it’s a stern gaze that corrects our behavior, or a gentle glance that affirms our actions, their nonverbal communication speaks volumes.
This unspoken language is rooted in their deep understanding and connection with us. It transcends words. I have a friend who swears she can sense her father giving her that look over the phone. I do not doubt it. Somehow, we can sense our parent’s approval or disapproval.
My parents are no longer living. And, as unnerving as those looks could be, I miss them. Just like my parents, my husband could affirm or correct with just a look. Now that they are all gone, I realize the importance of self-reflection. Doing for myself what those who loved me could do with just a look.
But turning this introspective look on ourselves is hard. We are consumed with busyness. We just keep going and going, and we forget to pause and reflect. Yet, it is only through introspection that we can truly understand why we do what we do.
It is only through introspection that we can understand our non-negotiables. We are only able to improve our lives when we are willing to reflect on it first. Who we are impacts how we live.
We are more than our titles, our skin color, our gender, our income. We are children of the most high God, created in His image. And we are created for a purpose.
When we see a need, we can choose to look away, or we can step in to help. When we stray, that moment of introspection can turn us around. When we see we have made a mistake, we can acknowledge it, and make it right if we can. And when we make mistakes we know that the God of creation forgives us.
Too often, we go through life smiling on the outside and quitting on the inside. The world sees us going through the motions, and believes we are okay. But this is not the kind of life God wants for us.
By taking a moment to look inward, we gain clarity and insight, enabling us to make meaningful changes in our lives. By taking a moment to look inward, we remember who and whose we are. We remember what is important, and what is not important. We remember what to keep, and what to cast aside.
The Bible offers a wise word on the importance of this inward look in Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
This passage reminds us that dwelling on past mistakes or missed opportunities can prevent us from seeing the new possibilities that lie ahead. Just as God promises new beginnings, we too can find new paths and fresh perspectives through self-reflection.
Consider the power of just a look – a parent’s glance that shapes us, or a moment of self-reflection that transforms us. By looking inward, by being honest about what we need to let go of, and being willing to embrace the new, we can improve our lives. That is the power of just a look.

(Ann Mann is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net.)

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