Some time ago, I lived in the hustling, bustling, big city of Chicago. I was in my mid-twenties and loving life. I loved the anonymity of the big city. You could wear what you want, do your make-up however you wanted, and nobody would look at you twice (that’s a topic for another day). It was nice. I would board Metro bus #145, put my headphones in, read my book, wait for my stop, and be in my own little world with my own little soundtrack playing in the background.
Then one day, I forgot my book. Big mistake. Big. Huge. It was a huge mistake because if you didn’t have your book, or some other choice of reading material, you were forced to find somewhere else to look. And where would that be? You’ve ridden the same bus on the same road on the same route for months now. There’s nothing new to see. I mean, yeah, the Chanel and Burberry window displays are nice to look at, but other than that, there’s nothing to see. And no one would ever think of actually making eye contact with another human being because, after all, they’re strangers. And you live in a big city. And they could be dangerous. And you’re a girl…and the list goes on.
Perplexed with this eye conundrum, I arrived at my stop, gathered my things, and headed out into the cold, windy city. Because I was so aware of my eyes, I was becoming aware of everywhere I looked, or rather, where I wasn’t looking. I noticed that most of the time, I was looking just a few steps in front of my feet. I mean, there were vents to watch out for, curbs to be wary of, and taxis to dodge. I really was just looking at what I had to look at to get me to the place I was going.
Somewhere deep inside me I heard this really quiet voice. It said, “Look up.” The second I heard it, my eyes began to lift. I noticed the end of the sidewalk rather than the concrete beneath my feet. Next, I saw the horizon straight ahead of me, then the dangling street lights, then the tip tip top of the buildings that made up this beautiful city. And what I noticed was a big, huge world. What I noticed, that I hadn’t noticed before, were the many lonely people begging for eye contact or a discreet “hello.” What I noticed was the intricate architectural detail of the edges of doorways and windows. What I noticed was people’s lives being lived all around little old me. I wasn’t anonymous. I was a part of something much bigger than just myself.
I can reflect about that moment in my life with such great detail because I think about it a lot. For weeks, maybe months after that cold day, I refused to take a book with me and forced myself to uncomfortably take in my surroundings everywhere I went. I broadened my scope and started using my peripheral and took in what I was a part of rather than just playing what I thought was my role in the world.
Now, ten years later, I truly understand the lesson I was learning. Too often, I focus on what’s right in front of me, and I forget about the big picture. I get up, get dressed, make breakfast, go to work, head to the gym, come home, have dinner, do the dishes, and get ready for the next day. I have hopes and dreams and wishes that may or may not come true, and I focus on those hopes and dreams and wishes to the point of exhaustion, much like reading my book on the bus and avoiding what was going on around me. For me, it’s important to remember to “LOOK UP” because although I think I’m in control of my life, I’m not. God is. He is the one that I put my trust in.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When I LOOK UP now, I look up to HIM. I may not know the details of God’s big picture, but I can have faith that there’s something bigger going on. I know now not to get caught up in the mundane, but to reach out to people, make eye contact with strangers, develop relationships with people, and experience new things.
So my challenge to those of you like me who tend to sometimes feel stuck in a rut or who feel like your daily soundtrack is monotone: LOOK UP! Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Look around you at everything God has already given you. Be thankful, trust Him, and seek Him above all else. You are his beloved daughter or son. He loves you and is longing for a relationship with you. So…what are you waiting for? Open your eyes, and LOOK UP!