Out of Sight Insight
I am not particularly proud to admit this but…out of sight, out of mind. This may not guide my whole life, but it certainly takes a very strong hold.
My golden retriever (of photo fame) lies whining just outside the door to my office. I can see her as well as hear her. I feel so bad for her because she has a skin ailment that itches and makes her miserable. I spent most of yesterday either worrying about her or caring for her. Took her to the vet; now she has been treated and is on the mend. But still, just outside my door, she is a complete distraction. In sight, in mind.
I have lots to attend to today, having gotten most of nothing done, so I retreat…to the front porch. Where I can neither see nor hear her. Oh, she’s still miserable, may even be whimpering, but out of my sight, out of my mind. Now, I don’t feel guilty at all. Not even a twinge. (this, by the way, works with siblings arguing with each other)
Where has my guilt gone? The circumstance is still the same. The dog is still fairly miserable, but I no longer feel guilty. Shouldn’t my guilt have a one to one relationship with the event or circumstance? Either I am responsible and feel guilty or I am not responsible and don’t. It shouldn’t depend on what I see, but it does. Or at least it seems to.
So guilt, I find, appears to be a creation of my mind – at least in cases like this. (aside here: If I have committed a crime or broken a law, I am guilty according to the law, regardless of whether I “feel” that way. This is not what I am referring to here, although I have on occasion found the law a bit unfair in this regard, but I will take that up with the officer who pulled me over in the school zone — who knew?)
What I’m talking about is, let’s call it, gray-area guilt or the absence of it. Guilt I assign based on what I am looking at. The responsiblity to do something about what I see. If I don’t see it, I don’t do. Out of sight out of mind.
Now, in life’s general practice, acting on what you see works. When I see the overflow of clothes in the hamper, I do laundry. When I see dishes in the sink, I put ’em in and run the dishwasher. When I see my kid planted in front of the tv and school starts in two days and I know she hasn’t done her summer reading, I fuss at her to turn off the tv and get her work done. Isn’t that how life works? (Btw – those techniques have variable efficacy.)
But what about what I don’t see that really needs doing? When do I make a place for what I don’t see? When do I put off or delay or shuffle in my schedule in order to attend to something that clambers quietly from my to-do list. Perhaps God has been calling me to quietly. God never shouts.
God is always out of sight. How do I keep God in mind?
and the flip side…What if Evil knows and uses my distraction by the visual to tempt me away from what I should be doing? To incline me away from what God wants me to do?
This is the dilemma for the in-sight-ful Christian. Who reflexively sees and does, without thinking. Are we aware of the effect visual impact is having on us? the marketing people out there certainly are. The folks who put pictures of that juicy burger on the slick menu as well as the ones who put the snapshot of the child with the cleft palate in my magazine. Both have designs on my action. Want to stir me out of inaction.
For now, at least, I am claiming attention. Noting the effect that “what I see” has on how I feel about “what I will do.” I am recognizing the hold this has on me, that maybe it shouldn’t. I have it within my power to close my eyes, to seek respite, to remove myself from the circumstance that has undue pull on my actions. I can go to a place away and, for a moment, seek direction…To have clear sight. Or at least cleared sight.
Without compulsion. Guilt free.
This is making me really wonder about the cause and effect of behaviors. Is that chocolate cake really calling to me when I see it in the refrigerator? What if I didn’t see it? What if I tossed it? What if I sprinkled dog food on top of it. So long, attraction. Well, not for the dogs, but then chocolate is not good for them.
Ha. Even my blog knows this about me. It’s “mode” to see the whole page and make it easier just to say what you gotta say and move on is called….”distraction free.” Really!!