My Culture/TV

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

About a year ago, I became obsessed with the TV show Friday Night Lights. Set in a small town in Texas, the series is about a high school football team and the cast of characters that it brings together. While football culture is the backdrop of the show, themes of faith, family, and friendship tangle their way into narratives about small town life and young love. Of particular inspiration is the infamous cheer that the show’s football team, the Dillon panthers, repeats each Friday night before they play their opponent: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

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Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. I realized that this phrase illustrates what God wants for us, and what the Christian life offers to us. The saying embodies an exciting reality—that by embracing an existence based on wakefulness and gratitude, we open ourselves up to be loved and changed by God in unimaginable ways.

“Clear Eyes”

Clear eyes allow us to understand our surroundings in a way that reveals God’s presence in our lives. This kind of seeing goes beyond the physical to the spiritual—it relates to our perception of and response to reality, whether we have 20/20 vision or were born blind.

The themes of vision and wakefulness are prominent in the Bible, especially in the life of Jesus. Throughout his public ministry, Jesus gives sight to many who are blind. When speaking of the “end times,” He tells us to “be alert” and “keep watch” (Mark 13:33-35). Finally, it was only after the disciples’ “eyes were opened” during the breaking of the bread that they recognized the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:31).

So, “seeing” is obviously an important aspect of the spiritual life. Yet, it is easy to go though our days with blurred vision, failing to be attentive to own behaviors, the people around us, and what really matters. Sometimes we even avoid seeing altogether by separating ourselves from uncomfortable realities and the suffering of others.

I often think about this when I am walking in the city and pass by homeless people, lying on the sidewalk or holding up signs asking for food. When I was little, I would avoid looking at such people, thinking that it would be easier if I didn’t see them. But
by avoiding the gaze of the homeless, I was neglecting the fact that there are people in my city, and billions more in the world, who do not have access to the resources that I do.

That is a reality, and if I avert my gaze as I walk down the street, I will not be able to see that my surroundings solicit a response from me. With open eyes, I can see that what the people I pass by need most is for me to look them in the eyes and say “Good morning! How are you?” or “Would you like a granola bar?”

Can this be uncomfortable? Sure. Awkward? Sometimes. Yet, Jesus calls us to see the world for what it is—to be awakened to both its beauty and its pain. It is through our witness in the world that we will be able to understand how God is calling us to be better disciples.

Full Hearts

So, having open eyes involves experiencing both the joy and the hurt of the human experience. Yet, when I am attentive to my surroundings, it is not sadness, but gratitude that overwhelms me. Gratitude opens the doors to our hearts so that God may enter. In her famous poem “Sometimes,” Mary Oliver writes, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Once we have clear eyes and are paying attention, we must know who to thank for what we see, who to “tell about it.” In other words, thank God!

Gratitude often comes in small moments that remind us that God’s love is not sweeping or vague, but deep and personal, rooted in who we are and what we experience. I like to think that if all good things come from God, then all that I am grateful for is God’s fingerprints on my life—the ways that He is trying to make me feel known and loved. When a friend says, “You’d love this!” or “I thought of you when,” it warms my heart by making me feel not just loved, but known. Do I let myself feel that same sense of relationship when I recognize the good that God is working in my life? Might hilarious moments with friends or an inspiring day of class or work translate to, “I knew you needed this,” or “This is how much I love you” in God’s language of love?

Can’t Lose

While the fears that hold us back from lives of wakefulness and gratitude are real for us as humans, we need not worry. This lifestyle is meant to be joyful and energizing rather than something that we must accomplish perfectly or alone. We “can’t lose” because God will never lose track of us. God is constantly creating us anew, and no matter what we do, he will remain persistent in his pursuit of our hearts and our happiness.

Just look at the life of Mary. In her moment of uncertainty, she said yes to God, trusting the words of the Angel Gabriel: “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). These words still hold true today. In our culture, it may seem as though growing up means becoming more realistic and less idealistic. But to grow up in the Christian faith means to dream bigger, believe more fully, and accept that the impossible is possible with God. God knows that we are only human, and yet gives us the grace to work divine plans despite our humble abilities. Just think, if Mary miraculously gave birth to someone who saved the world from sin and death, what, then, is possible through your “yes?”

Texas (and God) Forever

So there’s a reason that my roommate and I have this quote taped over our dorm room door (and not just because I feel cool jumping for it as I leave in the morning…). It’s because it’s a great reminder to be awakened to the world and to thank the one who loves me into life. Today and tomorrow and always.

Because it’s not just Texas that’s forever, y’all. God is, too.

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About the Author

Marie Therese Kane

I’m a sophomore International Studies major at College of the Holy Cross in MA. I love running in fall leaves, collecting inspirational quotes, and having meaningful conversations. I have been known to giggle at inappropriate moments, can’t help but make conversation with strangers, and always put M&Ms in my popcorn. Who you are is God’s gift to you and who you become is your gift to Him, so keep your eyes open and fight the good fight!