Frequently, life-changing experiences tend to be intensely personal. During the past year, however, I had an experience shared with many thousands that, though having a very public element, had an intensely personal effect on my growth as a person and as a Christian.
Some months ago, the daughter of Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman was tragically killed in the driveway of the family’s home in Tennessee. This story was covered in nearly every major media news outlet. As is typical in situations where tragedy befalls a person of some fame, there was widespread grieving among Chapman’s fans. A fan of many years, I was no exception.
What is less well known is that within 24 hours of this accident, another tragedy unfolded less than 75 miles from my home in Greenville, SC. A two year old girl in Greenwood, SC, was killed when a family friend was backing out of the family’s driveway and struck the child – a nearly identical accident to the one at the Chapman home. Though the two tragedies were, for all intents and purposes, identical, I found myself reacting differently to each one. Each family had lost an integral and precious part of their lives, yet my sympathy for one was greater than sympathy for the other.
I know that the Chapman’s daughter was name Maria Sue, that she was the youngest of three girls the Chapmans adopted from China, that Maria Sue loved to dance and dress up like a princess, but I am ashamed to say that though I did feel sorry for her family, I cannot even tell you the name of the child killed in Greenwood. I realized that however much we, as Christians, pay lip service to the idea that all of God’s children have equal worth, we often fail to live our lives as though this were true. We frequently become blinded by our association, however tenuous, with those whom we admire or we choose to identify with people “like us” and fail to see all people through the eyes of God. To paraphrase George Orwell, we act as though “Some of God’s children are more equal than others.” It was through these twin tragedies that I saw myself as Jesus must see those who “did not do for one of the least of these.” (Matt. 25.44-45).
Through this experience, my prayers have become very deliberate as I ask God to show me people through His eyes and not to let me coast through life without noticing what is around me. Those who know me well know that I often think in song lyrics. There is a recent song that sums up how this experience has changed the way I want to think and pray.
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I’ve been missing
Give me your love for humanity
I pray that we all will thirst for this insight every day..
 Brandon Heath. “Give Me Your Eyes.” What If We. Provident Music Distribution, 2008.