Seeing In The Dark – A True Story

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Let’s be honest. It is difficult to acknowledge when we are mistaken. Sometimes we don’t even recognize it. We don’t see in ourselves what others see. We work so hard at propping up our fragile ego that little time is left for true self-examination. Let me tell you a story from a recent event that illustrates this. 

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Last Friday night, on my birthday, Rhonda and I decide to see the movie Wonder Woman. We arrive at our favorite theater, pay for our (senior’s) tickets, get our popcorn and drink, climb to our seats, and settle in. I turn off my cell phone and give it to Rhonda to put in her purse. She places her purse under the seat next to her as we begin to enjoy the popcorn, enduring the pre-movie commercials. 

It was then that we begin to notice someone’s cell phone going off in the semi-darkness. It’s playing some kind of podcast or show. Soon people start looking around trying to locate the culprit. Rhonda and I think it’s coming from a family of four seated in the row in front of us about three seats down. A teen-age girl keeps looking back at us while the talk continues. I theorize that she is baiting us to say something. I wonder if this is some kind of experiment testing how long it takes before people say something to her. Maybe she’s documenting the manner in which they approach her. 

Most strange is that I recognize what is being said. On my cell phone, I have a comedy station with Pandora that plays some comedy routines of people like Jeff Foxworthy, Brian Regan, John Pinette, Henry Cho, Jerry Seinfeld, and Frank Caliendo. I am hearing familiar routine after familiar routine. They are playing the same station I have. Fascinating!  

Rhonda and I wonder if we should talk to them but decide to wait it out. Surely they will shut it off before the movie begins. Rhonda wonders why the parents won’t get their kid to shut off the phone. Another couple lands in seats behind us. When notice comes on the screen to shut off cell phones, he shouts, “Yah! Turn off your cell phones!” so everyone could hear. Still no silencing of the phone.

Everyone is looking at everyone else wanting something to be done. The comedy routines keep playing. Everyone is annoyed. We all are frustrated since no one is taking care of the problem. 

Another couple pass in front of us and sit one seat down to the right of Rhonda. They soon join the rest of us looking around trying to figure out how to stop the noise. It is only then that the man of this new couple lets Rhonda know that the talk-noise is coming from her purse.

Like a revelation from on high, it now all makes sense. With embarrassing amusement, she grabs her purse, pulls out my cell phone, and thrusts it at me. The annoying, bewildering talk-noise is now in my hands. I quickly tap my Pandora app and pause the comedy station. Silence.

Within a few seconds, 10 minutes of vexing irritation is dismissed. With awkward laughter Rhonda and I offer fervent apologies to all around. “Sorry!” “We didn’t know.” “Our bad!” 

All this time, it had been us.   

All this time, we thought it was someone else. 

All this time, we were oblivious to our own fault. 

It took another person who could perceive what we could not to make us aware of the problem. 

This is how it usually works. You are blinded by your own judgments and opinions. You are too proud or preoccupied to notice your own faults. You don’t allow someone else to speak into your blindness lest your eyes are opened and you see what you don’t want to see. You’d rather be ignorant and frustrated than honest and enlightened. 

“Nathan said to David, You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12.7)

It takes someone other than yourself to help you see who you really are. Do you have that “someone else” in your life? Who speaks honestly with you? Who do you trust to help open your eyes to the truth about yourself? 

Don’t be like Rhonda and me, assuming the problem is with someone else. Don’t assume you are keenly self-aware. 

You have blind spots preventing you from seeing. You have hearing loss preventing you from hearing. 

It doesn’t need to be like this. 

Allow someone to speak truth into your life and really listen. Deal intentionally with your own faults and get rid of noisy irritations. 

You’ll relate better to others around you. You’ll become a wiser and better person. 

Dr. K