Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blind Spot

Tim A. Michael 
We all have one – a blind spot that is. I was reminded of this truth a couple of weeks ago as Ally and I traveled to Sherman-Dennison to the North Texas Youth Connection to drop off a donation. Traveling east on HWY 82 from Gainesville, Texas my thoughts traveled back some 33 or so years. It was the first game of the high school football season and our L.D. Bell Blue Raiders were on the road to face the # 1 ranked Sherman Bearcats. I was giving a friend a ride and we had the music blaring, rockin and rollin down that highway. For most of that leg of the trip I was driving well over the posted speed and paying little attention to what was going on around me.

At some point I came upon a car in the right-hand lane driving a lot slower than me (we had a football game to see don’t you know), so after some period of tail-gating (not the nice fun kind) I decided to pass him on the left. I simply moved over without signaling or checking my blind spot. Unfortunately there was a Volvo already occupying that real estate, so crunch! The upside is it didn’t really damage his car that we could tell, but the down-side is it left a huge dent in my left-rear quarter panel. I was sick. We exchanged insurance information and went on our way. Guess who couldn’t enjoy the game? Adding insult to misery, we lost 52-26.

I got home really late so I didn’t bother telling mom and dad until the next day. For the record, Saturday is a good day to reveal this sort of thing. Why? It’s “family” day, it’s “big breakfast” day, it’s “less stress day-off” day. If you’re going to reveal something like a bad grade or an auto mishap, ALWAYS do this on Saturday – trust me. I took dad out to the driveway and showed him the fruit of my road-trip. He opened the trunk and literally popped out the dent with one hand.

The Heavenly Father is also like that – He can repair our damage with one-hand-tied-behind-his-back. Which, by the way, is another reason to wait for such revelations; Dads are pretty much super-heroes on Saturdays. There was still a tiny wrinkle about the size of a quarter in my fender, just big enough to be noticeable by me, but small enough to make any claim or repair totally unwarranted. Let’s call it Jacob’s limp.

So the blind-spot requires inspection, and by definition, by someone else. We all need people in our lives that are willing to speak the truth to us in love. Too many times we don’t for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Regarding that, we Michael’s have a saying, “Risk the friendship to save the friend.” God is not so concerned with salvaging a part if it destroys the whole. (check out Matthew 5:30 or Mark 9:43-45)

John 15 is also one of my favorite passages regarding this…(here are verses 1-4)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

The portion of that passage that jumped out at me recently is “no branch can bear fruit by itself.” We need people in our lives to help us see, well, us - us as we are, and as we can be. The old adage “love is blind” is BS. The true friend or companion sees as The Father does, the end product or the perfected version, but they also see us where we are and can help us see the deltas between the two. Hillary Clinton took a beating over her “it takes a village” stance, and contextually speaking was missing the mark, however, there is some truth to that principle. We need community – family, friends, church, work, and even teammates.

I’ve always loved team sports, and yet have been frustrated by them. Each one doing their part renders success. If any of you have seen “The Blind Side” you understand even more the point of this blog. It’s a story about Michael Oher who grew up in the worst of circumstances yet was adopted later in life by a family who saw his potential. He was an offensive lineman who became a left tackle in charge of protecting the (right-handed) quarterback’s “blindside.”

Michael came to understand what many of us have not fully grasped: while out doing our thing in life there is an enemy on the prowl seeking our demise, wanting to take from us what God has deposited in our care. Michael would do anything to protect his friends, his family, and his team. We all need a Michael in our life. We all need that friend that sticks closer than a brother. I have more than one Michael in my life. To that end, I am abundantly blessed. I have friends I can be “real” with and still be loved. I have friends I can share intimate details of my life and not be judged, but reproved and rebuked as needed.

I have a wife who also often fills this role. Couples also need a community of friends that can speak into their lives individually and as a unit. There are rare times that the last person you need to hear criticism or admonishment from is your spouse, but they are often the first. If you have redemptive relationships in your social network, you will likely get confirmation of that which your spouse speaks. Don’t be too quick to dismiss what your left tackle sees every single day. And if you are the spouse bringing something to your mate’s attention, do it in patience and love. They deserve it for putting up with you all this time. You have no doubt jumped off-sides a time or two, or been guilty of an illegal procedure, or holding.

This past Sunday I had the privilege of playing in our worship band at Marine Creek Church. We have 2 services so I have a chance to interact with dozens of people, and I’m still meeting new ones every week. After the service this week, I had packed up my gear, said my good-byes and started out for home. It was then that noticed a tickle in my right nostril. I look up in my rear-view mirror and discover a “tusk” growing out of it. I can’t grow hair on parts of my head, but I can sprout them from various other locations on my body – including my ears and back. Dang it! All I could think about was how many people saw it and cut the conversation short. Thinking to myself - Did I get the stink-eye and not remember?>

If you’re ever wondering if it’s okay to bring to my attention a tusk, a booger, or an open zipper, please do. I never rationalize that no one saw it, I always figure EVERYONE did, so the momentary embarrassment is much easier to cope with than the self-inflicted torment of my imagination. If only a friend had spoken up to reveal my “blind spot.” Again, we need those people in our lives that love us enough to say, “Hey! You’ve got a little stalactite dangling from your participle there mister!” I pray you find these people who are authentic enough to do that with you, yet loving enough to stick with you even when you’re snotty. Love to you all from a brother.

Proverbs 18:24
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.