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We could have been anywhere. But that night, inside the 70’s nightclub themed limo, we were six giggly women on a much needed “mom’s night out.” Somewhere in the midst of all the belly laughs and ambience— the kind created when there’s no one needing a diaper change or mouth to feed—a question began to hover, making most of us squirm in our velvet-clad seats. The question was, “What is something other people see in you that you don’t see in yourself?” I had never felt so vulnerable and curious at the same time. As I braced myself for impact, we all listened as my dear friend began to explain that I have personal space issues. I seem to have this endearing quality of getting really close to people as I become more comfortable and engaged in conversation. So much so, that a few times my friend has backed up, and I unknowingly only proceeded to follow.
While this was a funny little game and has since become a hilarious inside joke, I’ve thought often about the issues in my life that aren’t quite as harmless as being a little socially awkward. In our home, these are more eloquently and painfully described as “blind spots.” Blind spots are those yucky, sometimes annoying, often frustrating qualities about myself that are glaringly obvious to those around me, but in my defense, I often cannot see. And these differ from the issues that I already know—my tendency to get excited in a conversation and abruptly interrupt, the way I overanalyze things and let my insecurities dominate the monologue in my head, the grumpiness I feel when I need alone time, my short temper—you get the point. What I’m describing are those admonitions that come out of left field be it a disagreement with my husband, a conversation with a friend, or when my kids let me in on the things that drive them to exasperation.
Perhaps more important than the blind spots themselves are the responses generated by someone (me) who desperately struggles with perfectionism. Because of this desire, I have found myself ashamed, embarrassed, defensive, mad, or trying to argue myself out of what I know could not be true. The challenge with someone addressing our blind spots is this: just because they aren’t visible to us, doesn’t make them any less true.
So why am I so afraid to admit what others see when God already sees it all anyway? What holds me back from admission of these things? Why can’t I just embrace the faults that are obvious to others and need to change? Many answers to those questions go through my mind, but I am keenly aware that I tend to care more about others’ opinions and the determination to be right, and less about the teachable heart needed to change some ugly things in my life.
What is something other people see in you that you don’t see in yourself?
Jesus had to address some crucial issues with a bunch of religious leaders who definitely thought they had their act together. As you read Matthew 23, you can almost hear the passion in Jesus’ voice as He points out the Pharisees blindness to the hypocritical lives they were leading:
Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
Matthew 23:37-38 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Several things are clear to me as I watch the interaction. (Read the full chapter to understand the full context.) Jesus wasn’t just venting because he needed to be right. He was for them and for their understanding of the gospel. Because we don’t see a response in the text from the Pharisees, and a heart change doesn’t occur in future chapters, we are left to believe nothing transformed and that they ultimately rejected the truth.
As per usual, I read that and wondered how the Pharisees could ever doubt the reality aimed directly at their heart. But as I simmer on the text a bit longer, I ask, “How often does my response or lack of intention to change mirror the same?”
Why can’t I just embrace the faults that are obvious to others and need to change?
So this year, I want to meet my blind spots with a welcomed invitation. No more hiding, ducking, dodging, defending, arguing, or shame. Of course, I want to make sure I am listening to the voices that are for me, want to see me grow in my walk with God, and aren’t out for selfish gain. Thankfully, I have a great husband, family, and community of friends who desperately want that for me. My one caveat is to make sure those people sharing those things with you want the same as they do for me.
So when those loving people say those gut wrenching, “I wasn’t expecting that,” hard things, will you respond with a teachable heart? Will you try to weigh it out with a trusting Father instead of your insecurities and people-pleasing tendencies? Will you resist the urge to shrug it off as the Pharisees and ask yourself some hard questions? Will this be the year that you, like me, stop hiding when hard things are said, motivated out of love, and a desire to grow in your walk with God?
Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
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Image Credit: Stefan, Creative Commons. Some changes made.