The Gaze We Desire

Devin Schadt Blog

Have you ever met someone who avoids looking you in the eyes? He looks around you, but not into you? Have you ever struggled to make or retain eye contact with someone? Why do people avoid the gaze of another? The simple answer is that we are all afraid—afraid that the other may see something in us that we don’t want them to see; or perhaps on a deeper level, we are fearful that they won’t see something in us that is desirable.

Consider that all children from their earliest days, instinctively receive the loving gaze of others and gazes back at others. Children have no inhibition. They are not intimidated, or more importantly, they are not introspective; they simply peer out—and in—to others.

But somewhere along life’s rocky path, a child begins to mistrust others and even begins to mistrust himself. He begins to spend more time looking in than out. He avoids the gaze of another because he wants to avoid being rejected by the other. One of the reasons many of us stop gazing into others is because sometimes, early in our lives, the most important people stopped gazing into us.

Every single human being has the authentic desire to be desired, delighted in, chosen, affirmed, and loved. Children look for validation, affirmation, and approval. Children crave their father’s approval, they want his eyes to rest on them with delight because his gaze transmits and communicates something transcendent. Deep down, we all long for our father’s gaze because we desire the Father’s gaze. We desire our father’s approval because we desire to be approved by the Father. We desire to be a chosen son because we want God to choose us as His son—not just any son, but a chosen son in whom He delights.

But if our daughters don’t receive our gaze of love and affection, they will seek for that gaze of love and affirmation in a disordered manner from boys who are incapable of loving them truly. If our sons don’t have our gaze of approval, they will seek approval from those of whom we don’t approve. If our children do not have our gaze of love, attention, and delight, it will be gravely difficult for them to trust and believe that they have the Father’s gaze.