Our Smudged Johari Window

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Everybody has a blind spot. In psychology, this is called a section of the Johari window (named after its inventors Joseph and Harrington). It's the stuff others know about you that you don't know about yourself.

I cringe in horror at the thought of what people see through my Johari window... people with social anxiety spend so much time *hiding*. It's a worthless pursuit, because we are generally seen anyway. I have a hazy idea of what my blind spot might include... overprotectiveness as a mother, selfishness, being judgmental, etc.  But obviously I don't see the ramifications of my blindness clearly, because- yeah, it's a blind spot.

Have you ever thought about the fact that a blind person doesn't know they are blind until someone else tells them? It’s all they’ve ever known, so they assume the world is made of sheer darkness and sounds and touch. Blindness must be pointed out by someone who is not blind.  If the whole population was blind, no one would ever know. Everyone would just assume that's the way the world works.

There is a story of a blind man in the bible that has captured my imagination (John 9:1-12). He had been blind from birth, so he knew no other way. Somewhere along the line, someone had pointed out to him that he was blind. That revelation must have shook him. There is a world out there that he knows nothing about... a whole sphere of things that he is missing out on. Someone had told him the truth, but the truth did not set him free. And that's the tragic thing about blindness: Exposing blindness does not heal blindness. What could he do about it? Nothing.

A blind person who discovers they are blind can't give themselves sight. There is no “heal thyself” when it comes to blindness. So this man grew up, knowing he was blind but incapable of doing a thing about it. Probably filled with shame and grief.  And then Jesus came along. And the first thing Jesus did was clear the blame. "Who is to blame for this man's blindness, him or his parents?" the disciples asked. Neither, Jesus said. It happened for a higher purpose, with no one at fault. What a relief that must have been to the blind man! Still, what he really wanted was to be able to see.

And so that's what Jesus gave him. He healed the blind man who could not heal himself. He did it in a very strange way:  some mud slathered in the blind man's eyes, followed by a bath. The blind man could have done this exact thing himself. But without the healing power of Jesus, he would have come out of it just a blind man dripping water.

There are so many grace-based parallels that can be drawn from the blind man's story. We can't help our blind spots. We are not to blame for them. And we most certainly can’t heal ourselves. We probably don’t even know we are blind.  And if someone else points out our blindness, will it help? Unless it's mixed with the healing power of Jesus, no. It will just make us confused and condemned and threatened and still blind.

So if we can't even identify our blindness, and we can't heal it ourselves, what hope is there?  Must we stumble around hopelessly for the rest of our lives?  In our blindness, there is actually good news.  Our blindness means we are free to make mistakes, because it can be no other way.  We need not be paralyzed in the fear that we will be wrong, do wrong, see wrong, act wrong, say wrong. Because, of course we will, and it is through no fault of our own. We are blind, and the wisest among us will begin operating from that humble position of neediness. We need an Other who will see for us. An Other who will guide us when we cannot guide ourselves. We need the mercy of the One who expects us to blind, and who- rather than blame us for our blindness- treasures our dependence on Him instead. 

The next time you get angry at yourself, or someone else, for being blind to the truth (whether it be political, religious, or just general life truths)... try to remember we are all blind babies, and we can be no other. Our culture today is so filled with self-righteous judgements. Haters and shade and shamers, galore. It’s a tough place to live, where everybody is pointing out other people’s blindness, but their own blindness makes it impossible to see.

Let the knowledge of our own blindness make us gentle, hesitant to condemn, slow to engage on the 8 billion things there are to argue about in the world and Christendom. There is a certain hypocrisy to sinners pointing out sins. Unless we are shouting our own sins from the rooftops, we probably have no business pointing out others. And I don't know about you, but I don't really want to share my sins with the world. I'd rather focus on my true identity: a blind woman who has been utterly forgiven. A blind woman made perfect in God's eyes. A blind woman who looks forward to a day of perfect, crystal clear, 20/20 eyesight... a day that is coming soon.

For now, let's embrace the fact that we are blind, all across the table.  And that blindness is an opportunity to be humble. Gentle. Patient. Trusting. Hopeful. We have no guarantee of seeing clearly in any situation, for now. Let us give up being "right".  Let's just all cling to the perfect One, the One who sees clearly at all times and in all occasions. The One who is always on our side.

Not only are we blind, but we are also filled with the Light. There is one truth so clear and brilliant we need never worry about getting it wrong. It’s so simple children understand it. It spills forth, even through and in spite of our blindness.

Jesus loves me, this I know. And you, too.

That’s it. You are assured of 20/20 eyesight about that. You can shout that from the rooftops, and it will echo back to you in 20, 50, 100 years perfectly true. That is the only thing that gleams through our Johari window clearly, no spot or blemish dimming its shine. It’s the only thing worth arguing about. "No, Jesus loves YOU!" "No, I think He loves YOU!" It's the only thing worth taking a stand for. Not identifying sin (or using our ill gotten gift of judging right and wrong from the tree in the Garden of Eden). Not politics or religion. Jesus' love is the only thing we will never, ever be wrong about. It's the perfect mixture of truth and love.

Make room for yourself to be wrong. And forget all about regret. All those things you wish you had known when you were raising your kids, or in your first marriage, or trying drugs for the first time? Well, you didn't. You were blind. And Jesus had not given you sight yet. So you can let it all go. Use what vision you have now to do your best. There is no more.

And make room for others to be wrong: your children, your parents, you co-workers, your friends, your doctor, your spouse, your facebook friends, your pastor... any human you happen to run across, really.  

And I would love it for you to make room for me to be wrong, I'll need it. And may we all cling to that one thing that finds blindness to be irrelevant. 

Jesus love us.