Listen to this article, read by the author, Jessie Mejias.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (NIV) Psalm 139:23-24
My first car was a 1982 Toyota Tercel. It was the most basic model because that was all I could afford. At that time, basic cars didn’t have two side mirrors, just one on the driver’s side. What that did was leave a blind spot. A car could be on my right and I wouldn’t know it unless I strained my neck to be sure I could switch lanes. Fast forward to today: the car I’m driving now has two side mirrors that have lights that indicate when a car is close on either side of me. It makes it so easy to see if a car is in my blind spot, especially at night when it’s dark. But all the mirrors in the world won’t do me any good if I don’t look into them.
Have you ever seen a truck that has a sign on the back that says, “If you cannot see my mirrors, I cannot see you?”
That’s what I want you to get today: If you cannot see your mirrors, you cannot see yourself. Are you paying attention to your mirrors?
Every one of us has blind spots. Blind spots are whatever we can’t see about ourselves but that those around us can see.
One of my husband’s jobs is to very discreetly point to his cheek to let me know if there’s food on my face when we’re out to dinner. I don’t even feel it, but everyone else can see it.
Saul, the first king of Israel, had a major blind spot. In 1 Samuel 15 we see how Saul was instructed by the prophet Samuel to utterly destroy all the Amalekites, along with their livestock (v. 1-3). But when Samuel showed up after the battle, he could hear the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen (v. 14). Saul had decided to spare “the best” to sacrifice to the Lord, rather than completely obey God (v. 15). When Samuel scolded him, Saul claimed to have obeyed the Lord.
[Samuel said:] “Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” 1 Samuel 15:18-20 (Emphasis mine.)
God had selected and anointed Saul to be king, but now he was more worried about what his men thought than about God. He saw himself as righteous and noble, but Samuel saw his true condition: he was disobedient and rebellious. Samuel tried to warn him before it was too late but if you know Saul’s story you’ll know that he didn’t learn from the prophet’s rebuke. The end result was death and disinheritance.
Some of us have come out of very sinful lifestyles, like drug or alcohol abuse or occult practices. We’ve lived for so long far below God’s standards of morality, obedience, gratefulness, and humility that when we committed our lives to the Lord we immediately moved a great deal closer to God’s standards. The problem is that we can become complacent: we measure ourselves against what we were, not against what we should be. Our family and friends see where we could and should be. The gap between what they see and what we see is our blind spot.
For example, although I may have been forgiving of those who have caused me to suffer, if my words are still very negative, I’ll see myself as a forgiving person, but others see me as bitter. Maybe I think of myself as a very “giving” person, but others see me as manipulative: trying to control them through gifts. I may even think I’m a very “righteous” person, one who obeys the letter of the law and “helps” others to see when they have strayed, but others see me as judgmental.
These are all blind spots. Can you see your mirrors?
There are both spiritual and natural “mirrors” that can reveal our blind spots.
Some spiritual mirrors are:
- The Bible: we can receive a rhema word that speaks to a problem area of our life.
- An audible word from the Lord: we can hear a still small voice like Elijah heard in 1 Kings 19:11.
- Dreams: we can have spiritual dreams like Nebuchadnezzar, who was warned about his pride through a dream in Daniel 4. God often uses our dreams to show us our hearts: our subconscious mind reveals the things that our conscious mind refuses to acknowledge.
- Prophetic words: we can receive warnings from a messenger of God, even when that messenger is a donkey, as was the case with Balaam in Numbers 22.
There are natural mirrors too—the people who see you every day:
- Spouses: they may not point out our blind spots in the most gracious way, but they certainly know us!
- Children: as a reflection, they are great imitators of what they see. If you don’t like what you see in your children, check yourself out first.
- Family: especially our parents
- Bosses and co-workers
Are you paying attention to other people’s reactions to us? Can you see your mirrors?
If you want to be pro-active in identifying your blind spots, here are some other people who are great sources of feedback:
- Your pastor or small group leader
- The members of your small group (if you are part of one)
- A counselor (professional or pastoral)
A note of caution is that when seeking feedback from anyone, please make sure you are dealing with trustworthy, safe people. Please learn to distinguish between judgmental pronouncements (self-righteous people who just heap guilt on you) and constructive criticism (words that encourage growth, motivated by love, and offered in private). You want to receive feedback from those whose goal is to edify you, using the model of Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love.
Sometimes we think that constructive criticism is just confrontation, but confrontation can be healthy when it is done with the proper motivation and with appropriate speech patterns. Then it can become “carefrontation.” Carefrontation is the commitment to speak the truth (according to the Word) in love. Realize that sometimes a hard word offered in love is a gift: Faithful are the wounds of a friend. (Proverbs 27:6)
What can we do about our blind spots?
- Pay attention to God: Love the truth and choose light rather than the darkness. If we ask Him to continually shine light on the dark areas of our life, He will do so.
- Pay attention to others and their reactions to you: It’s scary to let people know who we really are. It’s even scarier to let them show us what they see in us. We must take the chance to allow one or two safe people to get to know us just as we are, people with whom we can share our heart and give permission to“carefront” us.
- Be vulnerable: Choose to be part of a small group that has proven to be safe in order to see things about ourselves that we could not otherwise see.
- If necessary, seek pastoral or professional counseling.
God loves us just as we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way! Let’s make a firm decision to allow Him to keep growing us to the next level.
Our goal at Sunodía Prayer Counseling is to help you heal and grow. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered here. Don’t turn away from the mirrors God has put in your life. Rather, welcome the changing image that you see from day to day as He transforms you from within through the ministry of the whole body.
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 a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (Emphasis mine).
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:5-9 (Emphasis mine)