The Blind Spot

 

When I was 17, I got my driver’s license. I wasn’t one of those kids who was chomping at the bit to have my freedom, or living for the day when I could finally drive a car. I’m more what you might call “the cautious type”.

When I go to the pool, I dip my toe in the water to check the temperature. I sit on the side and dangle my legs for a while, and then I slowly lower the rest of my body into the water, inch by painstaking inch,  gradually wading my way into the pool from the shallow end. I’m not the girl you’ll be likely to find jumping in from the side, or diving into the deep end, or doing a canon ball off the board. (You probably know which type you are, too, I’ll wager.)

It’s my way, and it has served me well, just as other folks’ ways work for them. I’m not advocating my way over those who dive right in. It’s just how I roll.

You gotta check your mirror.

So, when I finally decided that it might be OK for me to GET my driver’s license, as you can imagine, I was a safe and careful driver. My Dad mentioned something to me one day about watching out for my “blind spot”. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, but assured him I knew, and I would. And then, I went to change lanes, to get into the left hand lane. I glanced in my rear view mirror. All clear. I glanced in my side mirror. All clear. I put on my blinker, and I began to pull into the passing lane to my left.

And nearly got T-boned by the car that was where? Say it with me, everybody: “in my BLIND spot”. (Which, of course, reminds me of the time when Inspector Clouseau says to the blind beggar on the street, “Ahre yew BLIND???” “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am…”)

Sure enough, because of the way our car was designed and constructed, there’s this one. little. spot. in the driver’s field of vision (at about 8 o’ clock, if you know what I mean) where you HAVE to turn your head and check before you pull into the lane to your left. If you don’t turn your head, you risk a collision. Some of the little box-like cars that have been designed in the last few years have such significantly large blind spots due to their “cool” design, that the driver NEEDS a video camera in the car that takes pictures of what’s behind and beside the car. Because the “cool” factor has greatly reduced the driver’s field of vision. (Not meaning to offend, like I’m about to, but that’s just crazy bad design in my opinion.)

The day I experientially learned where my “blind spot” was, in regard to my car,  was a life changing day for me in my driving career. As I saw the accident I was about to cause (and thank God I didn’t! I swerved back into my lane in time!), my pulse leapt into overdrive, and I think I sucked all the oxygen in our car down my throat and into my lungs in a single gasp. I learned, experientially, which is often the very best teacher, that checking my mirrors was not enough. I really and truly DID have a literal blind spot.

I’ve been involved in social media for 14 years: since 1999. I’ve seen a lot of on-line drama in my day. But what never ceases to amaze me is the “blind spot” that we human beings have when it comes to our own lives. I want to be very clear that I am equally perplexed and amazed by my OWN blind spots. I’m not laughing at humanity (although that’s lots of fun to do, and a great pastime that I enjoy immensely, but it’s just not what I happen to be engaging in at the present moment) so much as I’m marveling at us.

We sit in church on Sunday morning and wish that “so and so” whom we love (or detest) was there, to hear that fine message that “they” so need to hear. It’s crystal clear when we look at the lives of others where they need help, or what they need to do differently.

How can we be so very blind to our own folly?
How can we be so incapable of change?

When I was in college, in chapel, I saw two guys do a skit as a visual aid that I will never forget. They each entered the stage from opposing sides, each carrying a log so huge it appeared to be almost telephone pole size. They swayed with those logs like elephants swing their trunks like pendulums, only they were swaying under the weight of the huge logs they were carrying on their shoulders.

“How you doin’, Joe?”

“Oh, I’m fine, Jim. How you doin’?” they intoned, as they swayed toward each other, like knights in a jousting match, moving their lances toward each other with all the excruciatingly slow speed of a herd of turtles.

“You know, Joe, you don’t look so good. I think you got a splinter in your eye. Let me see if I can help you get it out.”

“Sure. Hey, Jim, wait! I think you got one, too! Let me help!”

You can imagine the hilarity that ensued as they approached each other to try to extract the “splinter” that was obstructing the other’s field of vision.

They were, of course, illustrating the parable that Jesus told, that is recorded in the gospel of Matthew in chapter 7, verses 3-5:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

But how do we do that, Jesus, with that huge blind spot we’re lugging around with us, everywhere we go?

 We’d like to think we’re above having a blind spot. 

That’s what I thought when I was a novice driver in high school. I really didn’t think my Dad realized how careful, how cautious, how competent I was, as a driver. I was Caution Personified. Blind spot??? Pshaw. That was for underlings. Mere mortals. Driving dipwads. The careless crowd. I knew what I was doing!

Until I didn’t.

Until I found out I had a blind spot, too.

Apparently, it comes with the design. All God’s chilluns got a blind spot.

So, does he fault us for that?

In Psalm 103, the Psalmist tells us: 

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.


With our “blind spot” in mind, read this passage from the letter that James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, wrote to believers in Him, back in the first century.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.

 
 
As I read these verses this week, I was struck by how we can look at ourselves in a mirror, but go away and forget what we’ve seen. Sounds like our blind spot in action, to me. 
 
We hear a good sermon. Or we feel the prodding conviction of the Holy Spirit to make a change. 
 
And then we toddle on our way, and that important thought slips away from the forefront of our minds, and into some dark corner of our brain, where it can rise up again to nag at us later, at the most inopportune moments. 
 
But James has some pretty strong ideas about how to overcome our blind spot, and to James, it’s all about what we DO. We take what we hear (from the perfect law that brings freedom), and we do. And what we peer at intently? It’s not our reflection, and how “bad” we are. It’s gazing into the perfect law that gives freedom: also known as the royal law. (James mentions this in chapter 2, verse 8.) The law of the great King of all kings. And what is that royal law? Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
 
In action.Not just with words.

With action. DOING IT, as James says.

BONUS!!! With that action, comes blessing, says James. We will be blessed in what we do.

Do I have a blind spot? Yup. I do.
(But then, so do you.)
You see things about me that doubtless I cannot see about myself.
But if I’m gazing intently into the perfect law that brings freedom, and taking action to do what it says, to love God with all my heart, and to love my neighbor as myself?

I have to believe that the One who designed me as I am, and who loves me as I am, will speak to me in His own way, and show me my blind spots, as we go down the highway of my life.

God grant me ears to hear Your Voice, when You point out my blind spot,  and a heart that’s willing to obey, and hands and feet and a voice that put Your direction into action.

Do you ever wonder about your own blind spot?

 

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