Take a look around you. Can you see everything in your surroundings? Most of us would say yes. But the truth is, whether your vision is 20/20 or corrected by lenses, the answer is the same: no matter how hard you try, you cannot see everything around you.
The human eye has a blind spot—a small area on the retina, about the size of a pencil eraser, without photoreceptors. We usually aren’t aware of this blind spot because our brain fills in this blank area with the surrounded images, making our vision field appear seamless.
We also have blind spots or gaps in our perception that keep us from seeing the truth about others and ourselves. Because we are at times blinded to reality, we are immobilized and crippled by guilt and shame, anger and bitterness, worry and regret, and fear and anxiety.
Too many people live needlessly in defeat, immobilized by their own mistakes or the mistakes of others. They stumble around in life with blind spots blocking the work God wants to do in them. But it doesn’t have to be this way. No matter how broken or hurt, every person can discover the way to healing, hope, and a joyful new way of living.
1. Stubborn Resistance—Blinded by Denial
Many people hang on to stubborn resistance just as Pharaoh did in the days of Moses. Moses went to Pharaoh and asked to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Pharaoh resisted with entrenched stubbornness. So God sent plagues on Pharaoh’s nation to turn his thinking around. Now, if I had been Pharaoh, I might have resisted Moses’ request to let my slaves just walk out of my country. But after the gnats, it would not have been a problem at all. If not the gnats, the flies surely would have turned my heart. One fly is enough for me. I know where those dirty, hairy little legs have been. But the gnats and flies were not enough to break through Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance. Nor were painful, infectious boils. He remained stubborn until Egypt was utterly devastated. But still he stubbornly resisted, finally to his own undoing.
We do the same thing. We become kings of stubborn resistance in our own little worlds. We develop habits and hang-ups we will not even think of releasing. We hurt ourselves and those around us, allowing boils to fester in almost every area of our lives. Rather than looking for a way to remove these blind spots, we deny we have a problem.
Willingness: The Key to Overcoming Stubborn Resistance
If you realize you have a tendency toward stubborn resistance, be grateful, because it’s not easy for people to see their need to change in this area. Stubborn resistance is by its very nature stubbornly resistant to change. So don’t expect to overcome it in a moment or a day. It will take time and work.
Open-mindedness is a valuable assessment tool, but it’s worthless unless it’s followed up with a willingness to act. A person with willingness goes beyond good intentions. There’s no “try” or “want to” for the willing. The willing actually get things done. Willingness moves beyond desire to doing whatever it takes to make things different. Willingness lead to real change.
2. Arrogant Entitlement—Blinded by Selfishness
We live in a world that encourages my-way thinking. We’re bombarded with ads that tell us to “have it your way” and “you deserve a break today.” Go out there and get what you deserve no matter what it does to others. Buy this luxury product because you deserve it. You’re entitled to be happy, so if you’re not getting what makes you happy, you’re entitled to find it elsewhere. And even if in our hearts we know our thoughts and actions are wrong, we rationalize so that we can continue to indulge.
Self-centered people want from others what is “due” to them. They’ve staked out their territory, and they expect everyone to honor their boundaries and their rules. In short, they are stuck in an immature way of thinking. Mature adults learn that their adolescent, selfish sense of entitlement hinders their ability to achieve all that God has in mind for them. They broaden their viewpoint from self-absorption to include the needs of others.
Humility: The Key to Overcoming Arrogant Entitlement
Humility eliminates the self-centered arrogance that results in entitlement. Humility doesn’t climb over others. It reaches out to connect with others, appreciating them for who they are, not for what they can do for you. A humble person doesn’t use everything within himself to further his own cause, but rather he desires to use whatever strength or position he has to help others and meet their needs. As a result, the relational blind spot is removed, giving him access to a rich life full of valuable connections with family and friends. “Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time, he will lift you up.” (1 Peter 5:6)
3. Justifiable Resentment—Blinded by Bitterness
Are you angry about something in your life? Has someone hurt you, and you feel you have every right to remain angry and bitter? Have you done something so awful you cannot forgive yourself? What I’m addressing here are not the petty little resentments that momentarily upset us from day to day but instead betrayals and deep hurts. The kind that has you believing that anyone who went through such an experience would feel the same way. If you’re carrying around anything like this, it’s as dangerous as radioactive material. And it can eat away at who you are at the deepest levels of your being.
Forgiveness: The Key to Overcoming Justifiable Resentment
Without exception we are to forgive, no matter how strongly we feel that the severity of the offense justifies our continued resentment. Often we look for any possible loophole to withhold forgiveness, but there is none. We must forgive.
When the hurt is deep, forgiveness can seem too much to ask. Some are unwilling to forgive because they believe the abusers deserve the worst. Or they think forgiving lets the perpetrators off scot-free and seems to allow them to think that their despicable act was justifiable. I’ve been the victim of offenses I thought were so great, no one could ask me to forgive them. I was astounded at the depth of pain, and could not believe I had to forgive these people. Anyone could see I was entitled to any amount of anger, rage, resentment, or bitterness. But I knew in my heart the longer I held onto the resentment, the more it would hurt me. The forgiveness was not instantaneous; it took time. Forgiveness is a process rather than an event. One of the most beautiful promises in Scripture is found in these words of Jesus, inviting us to a higher way of living than the world offers: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29) Jesus desires peace for our souls. So at some point, we must courageously move toward giving up our resentment and begin replacing it with forgiveness.
4. Disconnected Isolation—Blinded by Detachment
Life alone is easier, but it’s emptier. Isolated from relationships that bring out the inner truth about ourselves, we don’t have to face who we really are. We remain unaware of the areas in which we need to grow. We stop developing the maturity and wisdom God wants for us. The disconnected life is based on an assessment that the world is unsafe, people are not dependable or worth the trouble, or their own relational skills are inadequate.
Intimacy: The Key to Overcoming Disconnected Isolation
Isolation is a blind spot that blocks us from deep joy and the way humans are designed to live as relational beings in a community with others. If we’ve been hurt in the past, intimacy is the opposite of what we want. Who can blame the abused woman, the abandoned boy? The world and people seem unsafe. But Jesus has given us his body—the church—a community of refuge and love. “Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble” (1 John 2:10).
5. Willful Ignorance—Blinded by Disobedience
Psalm 119:29 issues a plea to God that we all need to echo: “Keep me from lying to myself.” We all do it. Even when we don’t lie to ourselves overtly, we keep busy enough to avoid looking at the true reality of a situation. So often we are ignorant of our own blind spots. The prophet Isaiah addressed the people of his day, hoping to shake them up so they could see the truth from which they had turned away. He upbraided them for their empty religious ritualism, urged them to turn from the idols they were worshiping, and warned them of the coming downfall of the kingdom if they did not change. He could just as easily have been talking to us today.
Obedience: The Key to Willful Ignorance
It would be natural to think that the key to overcoming willful ignorance is knowledge, but that is not the case. The key is obedience. To understand why this is true, there’s no better explanation than what we find in the Bible. To know God’s will we have to do more than just read about it; we have to do what he tells us to do. John 8:31-32 tells us if we follow the teachings of Christ, we will come to know the truth. We read the truth and incorporate it into our lives. We respond by doing the right thing. Acting on truth removes our blind spots because truth helps us see beyond those blind spots into the wide-open vistas of reality. All truth is from God, and truth conforms us to the way he created us to live. Because he loves us, he created us to live in ways that produce the most satisfying, joyful, loving, and harmonious lives possible. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Want to read Steve Arterburn’s book? You can purchase 5 Blind Spots Blocking God’s Work in You here!
Steve Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show, New Life Live! heard and watched by two million people each week on radio and TV. Steve is the founder of Women of Faith conferences and serves as a teaching pastor at Heartland Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Steve is a bestselling author of books such as Every Man’s Battle and Healing is a Choice. The above excerpt is from his book 5 Blind Spots Blocking God’s Work in You. Steve resides with his family in Fishers, Indiana.
Publication date: January 28, 2015