When it comes to shows and movies, I am the opposite of a binge watcher. My husband jokes that it takes us four nights to get through one movie, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. I’m notorious for suddenly needing a bowl of cereal ten minutes into a show. Despite this, I still like to have at least one show that I watch without my husband for those nights when he has evening meetings (not that he has many of those lately). My current show is “Love is Blind” on Netflix. If you have not been tricked into watching the preview yet, the premise of the show is that people go on “blind dates” in little adjoining rooms divided by a wall and get to know each other without the distraction of appearance. If they fall in love and get engaged, then and only then are they allowed to meet each other in the flesh. After three and a half episodes (I told you, I do not get through shows quickly), there have already been some engagements and reveals. It will be interesting to see if any of the couples make it to the wedding day or beyond. From the trailer of the rest of the season, it does not look too hopeful.

I understand the appeal of joining an experiment like this. After all, I’m sure it is exhausting to be swiped one way or the other based on one picture. People are accepted or tossed aside like an advertisement for new shoes. This is hurtful for everyone, attractive or not. It does not feel good to be called ugly, and it also does not feel good to be accepted only for looks. In Todd Brewer’s “Another Week Ends” from February 28th, he pointed out, “Netflix’s reality show ‘Love is Blind’ has one fatal flaw… none of the participants are actually ugly.” Seriously, if people on this show were told upfront, “Look, every participant will be decent looking, have a job, and be between the ages of 24-36,” then that doesn’t sound quite as risky, does it? The list of flaws could probably fill a book, but there are two more that particularly stand out to me.

First of all, this experiment assumes someone’s physical appearance is not part of who they are. One refrain I keep hearing from the participants is the desire to be “accepted for who they truly are.” So who you are does not include your body? We have a tendency to disdain our own bodies and act like they are just shells to house our “true” selves. As much as we don’t want to admit it, the way we look and even our mannerisms (my friends tell me I am bird-like in the way I move–not sure if that’s a compliment) are a part of who we are. Like all gifts from God, we twist and distort the idea of the body until we believe that the thing itself is bad. Just because we judge and make snap decisions based on appearance does not mean that our bodies do not matter. On the contrary, God created us wholly, body and soul.

Another major flaw is that participants only know what the other person chooses to reveal about himself/herself. Like a resume cover letter, they omit anything that might repulse the person on the other side of the wall. For example, one of the men on the show had previously been in relationships with other men, but he proposed to a woman and met her in person and still has not shared this information with her. The participants have total control over what they reveal. These gaps of knowledge allow the other person to fill in the blanks with a fantasy. They may have a genuine “connection” (a word that is ridiculously overused on these dating shows), but they do not actually see the complete person. They have not witnessed that person at a restaurant being rude to the server, nor heard their friends talk about ridiculous things they did growing up, nor seen them interact with the world around them at all. Self-descriptions will always be tainted with how we want to be seen.

This extremely selective sharing of ourselves (looks and personality) is not limited to this dating show but true of all of us. It leads me to ask, do we really want to be seen? The participants on “Love is Blind” say that they want to be known and accepted for who they are, but their actions (meeting someone from behind a wall, not telling any nitty gritty details, etc.) indicate the opposite. We want to hide or run away from being known because if we really think about “who we truly are,” it is not resume-worthy. Love is not blind–love sees all, and that is a scary thought. We prefer blind love because then we don’t have to see any ugly flaws in ourselves or others.

Hiding and running away from being known is not a new tactic. Two women in the Bible stand out to me:

Hagar, the servant of Sarai, is used by Abram and Sarai to bear a child for them when they run out of patience with God. When Sarai becomes resentful and mistreats her, the pregnant Hagar flees into the wilderness. In that hidden place, God sees her and meets her in her suffering. He tells her to return to her abusive mistress and that her son will fight with everyone. You would think hearing that kind of news would make Hagar want to run farther and hide even deeper in the wilderness, but amazingly the opposite happens. She rejoices that she has seen “the God who sees” and remains alive, and she returns to Abram and Sarai. Why would she do that (Gen 16)? Later on after Isaac is born, she is cast away with her son, Ishmael, and again God meets her in the wilderness. He hears the voice of the boy and opens Hagar’s eyes to see a well in front of her. When no one else sees her, God is there (Gen 21).

Years later, another woman walks to a well in the heat of the day, avoiding all people and their judgment. She is surprised to see a Jewish man sitting near the well and even more surprised when he speaks to her. Without revealing a thing about her personal life, this man knows that she has had five husbands and is living with a man who is not her husband. She knows that the coming messiah will proclaim all things to them, so when he says he is the one and then tells her everything she has ever done, she runs back to the city to tell everyone. Again I am baffled by this reaction. Jesus does not compliment her or butter her up so that she’ll go tell everyone how great he is. Instead he points out her flaws. Yet, she runs excitedly to tell everyone (John 4)!

There must be something different about the way God sees us. When we see each other, we see half truths and bring judgment. When God sees, He sees the complete person and brings love and mercy. In both of the examples above, the women are confronted with difficult truths, and yet they both go back to their communities rejoicing.

God knows you fully and loves you fully. He sees you. This is so unlike any other relationship we experience that it seems like it would be intimidating or scary, but it is because of who He is that we rejoice rather than run away from this exposure.

Sometimes we have trouble seeing God because we live in a broken and cloudy world, but He sees us clearly. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12). One day we will see God as clearly as He sees us!

The most exciting part of “Love is Blind” is seeing the engaged couples finally meet each other in person. Their eyes light up to put a face to this voice they have fallen in love with. I wonder if that is how it will be when we finally meet Jesus face to face in the new creation. We do not have any photographs of Jesus, and we don’t know exactly how to picture him. In some ways we are like the blind dates behind the wall waiting to see what he will be like in the flesh. Like the song says, “I can only imagine.”

Or… will it be more than that?

I had a dream the other night that I ran into an old friend, a father-figure type, and when I saw him my heart was full of love and excitement, and I gave him a big hug. I woke up thinking, “That’s what it will be like when I see Jesus face to face.” It will not be like the “Love is Blind” reveals. I will not be thinking, “Oh, so that’s what you look like!” Instead, I will cry out, “It’s you!” because I will be seeing an old friend who has shared a long history with me, someone who has laughed with me and cried with me and knows and accepts me for “who I truly am.”