Uncomfortable Reality

The other day, my 7 year-old was giving me a report on a book she read for her literature lesson. As she stumbled through explaining what had happened and who the characters were, I stopped her to let her know that she was not pronouncing the main character’s name correctly. She quickly responded with, “Oh, I know, that’s just what I call her.”

My brow furrowed as I knew that this particular child of mine if very quick to respond this way when she is corrected for anything. She is very fearful of being wrong and so always tries to spin things in a way that make it sound like she knows what she was supposed to do or say, but is intentionally changing the standard and the rest of us just need to accept this as the new norm and move on.

My heart grieves deeply to see her trying so hard to avoid being corrected, because I desire my children to be teachable, and I know that requires a great deal of humility and a willingness to accept correction.

I also know that I grieve the heart of God in the same way.

To admit we are wrong is really difficult, no matter how old we are.  

We are often happier to see the world as we want it to be rather than to see it for what it actually is. When others try to tell us that what we’ve seen to be true is incorrect, we tend to get defensive and avoid those conversations at all costs. At least, I know I do. I don’t like being told I’m wrong. It scares me.

The reality is that walking through life ignoring the truth about ourselves and trying to change the standard so that we measure up is immensely more scary.

It's like walking down a busy street blind with no help.

I was reading earlier this week about a collection of studies written by Marius von Senden in 1932 called Space and Sight reporting the results of blind patients being able to see after undergoing operations to restore their sight. These reports showed that many of the patients struggled with understanding the world as they now saw it with their eyes, because up until that moment, they had been seeing the world through their other senses, and what they saw with their eyes was so different from what they had understood those objects to be that some would literally close their eyes and walk around in the darkness rather than adjust to the terrifying new way of seeing. Still others would beg for the operation to be reversed so they could go back to being blind! Can you fathom preferring to live blind?

Annie Dillard writes about this research in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,

“The mental effort involved in these reasonings proves overwhelming for many patients. It oppresses them to realize, if they ever do at all, the tremendous size of the world, which they had previously conceived of as something touchingly manageable.”

I am one who would prefer to remain blind to my reality, and continue in the comfort of familiar darkness. I have a tendency to shy away from things that overwhelm me and make me feel stupid or in the wrong. I am much happier when I feel that I can manage things. Competence makes me feel pretty snazzy. Earlier this week, my husband whooped me in a game of air hockey. As in skunked me 7-0. I did not feel very snazzy. I scowled and walked away muttering about how annoying arcades are. Yes, my pride bruises easily in even the most juvenile of activities.

I don’t like being corrected, my 9 year-old is learning this, now that she is so much smarter than me. She is very patient to tell me, “No, Mom, you need to push this button on the remote to get the TV to change the input.”

“What?!” I’m wondering how soon she’ll have me committed to the old folks home now that I can’t navigate the simplest of technological devices.

I hold tightly to my pride.

And I am very comfortable in my pride. So when the Holy Spirit opens my blind eyes to see the reality of my sin, I’d rather close them and carry on as before, than to struggle through the discomfort of facing my failure and making a course correction.

A friend recently said to me that to live this life faithfully, we would do well to learn to sit for a bit in places of discomfort. We are quick to adjust into a more comfortable position or situation.

However, most times sanctification of the soul comes in very uncomfortable ways.

When we are comfortable, there is no reason to do anything differently. We don’t feel as though we need anything when we are comfortable. Discomfort is a gift of God’s grace that motivates us to search for answers in hopes of relief. Suffering, whether caused by outside forces or as a result of our own mistakes, pushes us towards repentance. It invites us to turn and walk the other direction. By God’s grace, it draws us to him, if we are willing to humbly accept correction.

I want my children to understand this. I want to understand this better.

How about you? Do you struggle with admitting you are wrong? Or am I the only one? Are you indifferent to your own pride?

My prayer for both of us today, is that God will help us to respond humbly to his correction. That we would have our eyes open to see our sin for what it is and repent. I pray that we would rejoice in the freedom that comes when we give up trying to always be right, admit that we are wrong and accept the reality of the changes we need to allow the Holy Spirit to make.

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold…You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want, and I don’t need a thing’, And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:15-20 NLT