After witnessing a horrifying scene on the evening news, friends will sometimes remark to me, “You know, you’re lucky that you can’t see!” They always quickly apologize, afraid they may have offended me. But sometimes they are right. Sometimes there are advantages to being blind.
One true advantage is that I am never able to judge a person on appearance. The scriptures tell us rather pointedly that while the countenance, height, and build of a person matter to men, they do not matter to God: “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
I used to be guilty of judging by appearance back in the days when I could see, before I lost my sight because of diabetes. I remember in particular my girls’ chorus teacher in junior high school. She was about as plain as a person could be, and she wore drab clothing. Even in conducting the choir she seemed to be a shy, backward person with about as much personality as a soda cracker. I am ashamed to admit that we girls made many rude remarks and cruel jokes about her behind her back.
One day at the end of the school year, some friends of mine thought it would be funny to leave an anonymous note on her desk telling her what we really thought of her. I was elected to do the dirty work. But as I went into the empty room to leave the note, I couldn’t do it. Instead, overcome by what I now suspect was the Spirit, I quickly wrote a note thanking her for her efforts in leading the chorus and telling her I had enjoyed singing.
As I was leaving the note on her desk, she entered the room. I was frozen to the spot as she walked to the desk, picked up the note, and read it. As I watched, I was astonished to see tears come to her eyes and flood down her cheeks. She clutched the note to her heart and in her mild way said, “Thank you.”
As I looked into her eyes at that moment, I believe I saw her clearly for the first time. I felt like I saw straight into her soul and sensed at once her loneliness, her pain, and her gentle goodness. At that moment, I loved her with a love that was far more powerful than anything I had ever felt for my favorite teachers. The Lord permitted me to see her heart as he sees it.