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My Ugly Blind Spot



I hate it when I realize I’m ugly.

Not physically, but on the inside. I don’t know why I’m surprised. Scripture is certainly clear on the ugliness of the sin nature. But it’s easy enough to fool myself into thinking I’ve somehow slipped by—that I am just a truly nice person.

Then I’m reminded otherwise.

A couple of weeks ago, I was directing a skit for church, and my actors had met an hour before service for a final run-through. I watched in chagrin as the whole thing fell to shambles. One of my actors had lost his script and didn’t know his lines. And my co-leader, Audrey, was blanking on her part and kept having to start over. The pastor looked on with a worried expression. A diehard perfectionist, I felt frustration welling up inside at my team’s lack of preparation.

I wish I could say things got better, but predictably, Audrey panicked during the performance and forgot her lines. The rest of the team limped through the remainder of the skit. The performance was less than I had hoped for.

My younger siblings will tell you about the “the look,” an expression that has gained mythic proportions in my family. “The look” is the facial expression of pure disgust that I generate when family members are not meeting my expectations. It has been known to paralyze my younger sister’s confidence in a single glare and convince my brother he’s worthless. But that’s family.

That night, as my actors stumbled through rehearsal, “the look” went out in full force. And as Audrey came off stage after the performance, she apologized for forgetting her lines. I mustered an unconvincing, “It’s OK,” but my expression communicated the opposite.

After church Audrey approached me and asked if we could talk. In frankness, she told me she had felt demeaned by “the look.” She explained that she had practiced her part all week and had simply suffered a moment of stage fright. She pointed out how my negative demeanor during practice had affected the confidence of the whole group.

After hearing Audrey’s charge against me, I immediately wanted to justify my actions and point out that she was also to blame. After all, she’d forgotten her lines. But as I kept my mouth shut and listened, the Lord whispered gentle conviction. I had let my desire for perfection—for the purpose of making me look good—come before the feelings of people. My look, and the attitude behind it, had been intended to make my team members feel shame for their failure. Instead of showing grace, I had sought to make them pay.

My stomach tightened with that sick feeling I get when I’ve been caught at my ugliest and realize my sin has affected another person. I apologized and asked for Audrey’s forgiveness, which she freely gave. By the end of our conversation we were laughing and planning to meet for coffee.

As I drove home, I confessed my sin to the Lord. I thanked him for Audrey’s boldness to confront me. As much as the rebuke hurt, I knew Audrey had delivered it in love and concern for our relationship.

In the weeks that followed, I related the experience to several of my closest friends. As I told them about “the look,” they would nod and smile knowingly. I was slightly taken aback, but curious. Under further questioning, my friends admitted that they had also witnessed “the look” of freezing disapproval. Although I had known my perfectionist tendencies, I was unaware that my facial expressions were affecting many of my relationships.

Window of Opportunity

In college I learned about “Johari’s Window.” The window, a square with four quadrants, is a self-awareness tool. The first quadrant represents open area—the things you know about yourself and others know about you. The second quadrant represents your blind spots—things others know about you that you don’t know about yourself. The third section represents the hidden area—things you know about yourself that you have not disclosed to others. And the fourth quadrant represents the unknown area—things neither you nor others know about you.

I think many times I fail to consider that there are things others see in me, that I can’t see in myself. Often these “second quadrant” things are negative characteristics. Blind spots may include things as simple as non-verbal characteristics, such as lack of eye contact, or as serious as sinful behaviors, such as pride or gossip. These blind spots have the ability to hinder relationships or even damage a witness.

As believers we are to be above reproach. How often have you heard a non-believer complain about a Christian they knew who was a jerk? Perhaps this impression could have been prevented had someone told “Mr. Jerky Christian” how others perceived him.

Breaking the Cycle

The first step in ridding yourself of ugly blind spots is to invite feedback. People want to be nice. But your friends aren’t doing you a favor by ignoring your less-than-pleasing characteristics.

Offering correction is risky to a relationship, and most people would rather not attempt it. Although many of my friends had experienced “the look,” only Audrey had the boldness to bring it up. When I asked my friends about it directly, however, they openly offered gentle, helpful critique.

Scripture is full of examples of accountability. Nathan came to David to rebuke him for committing adultery and murder—a pretty major blind spot in David’s life! The Proverbs are peppered with verses that say a wise man cherishes rebuke.

Proverbs 27:5-6 is a good example: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Those who love you are the best to offer critique. To avoid living with glaring blind spots, regularly ask those you trust to give insight into your life and point out areas that need improvement.

Then be prepared for criticism. When I began asking my friends to share how they perceived me, part of me hoped they would give me a pat on the back and reassure me that my behavior was understandable. When they didn’t, I was hurt. Words like “uncooperative” and “critical” caused my defenses to rise. But as I forced myself to listen and consider their perspectives, I recognized attitudes in myself that did need correction.

Of course there are times when a person’s criticism of you may be unfounded, but ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth in what they’re saying. Even if a complaint is invalid, a humble attitude and loving spirit will allow you to be Christ-like.

Open Eyes

Once a blind spot has been revealed, take action and change.

In the month since Audrey clued me in about how I was coming across, I have applied this knowledge to other groups and relationships with good results. I completely resolved an ongoing personality conflict, for example, by owning up to my faults and approaching this person with a humble attitude.

I’m also more aware of controlling my facial expressions. When I find myself in a stressful or potentially frustrating situation, I focus on keeping a pleasant demeanor. As I’ve used this new technique, I notice people responding positively, which eases tension.

I have also learned that I need to constantly ask the Lord to reveal areas where I need improvement. When I do, He is faithful to convict me where I need it. This doesn’t mean I should be paranoid or beat myself up over my shortcomings. Through faith in Christ, I am a new creation and can rise above sinful tendencies.

Hebrews offers this encouragement: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:5-6). I need to remember that rebuke is a sign that the Lord is refining me and removing impurities.

It hurts to be confronted with my ugliness. But as I’ve discovered, these painful moments can also be a catalyst for change. I’ll never be a truly nice person. I suspect I’ll still give “the look” in moments of weakness. But as I deal with blind spots, and as I continue inviting loved ones to help me better see those blind spots, I can be confident that I’ll come out looking more like Christ.

Article photo copyright © 2009 Kelly Sauer. Used with permission.

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular contributor to Thriving Family magazine and and writes children’s resources for several publishers. After having three children in fewer than five years of marriage, Suzanne and her husband, Kevin, who is a children’s pastor, consider themselves on the family fast-track — a blessing they wouldn’t trade for anything. Gosselin is the author of the newly released, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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My Ugly Blind Spot

by Suzanne Gosselin time to read: 6 min