These are the words I spoke to my 15-year-old, newly permitted driver as he remained ever focused on the left and right lanes before him but failed to check his blind spot and see the semi-truck he was about to merge into as he drove on the I-205 to I-5 on ramp. Thankfully, he did finally brake. After the moment passed, he looked at me and said, “Mom, you didn’t need to yell.”
So often in life I find that when I neglect checking my blind spots, that over time, others who see them clearly come to feel threatened by them. They may have either remained silent about them or warned me about them in some round-about polite way a number of times. Eventually though, anxious, self-preservation emotions take over and the “yelling” begins. When this happens, rarely is it productive to bring about holistic change (except maybe, when driving a car).
Recently, I posted a picture in my Instagram feed and wrote: “Idolatry at its finest. Seems even a lost election can’t topple that idol. Christian nationalism will always be offensive to me.” I then added a side note, that I did not vote for either main party candidate, and if the 4×4 was covered with Biden’s name, my observation would be the same.
Within minutes, I had an individual begin commenting on the post. I was told if I knew what was happening with China I would think differently, that the media does not dictate final election results, and I should “take the plank out of my own eye” first.
I tried to respond to each comment with an even tone. But after a few back and forths, it was clear we were not debating the ideological position of Christian nationalism. Rather the “conversation” became more of a critique of my individual ignorance and being. Therefore, I deleted the post and followed up with a DM to the individual explaining why I’d deleted the post. The conversation continued to primarily critique me as an individual. And again, rather than continue to debate the issue of me, I walked away promising to examine the judgments laid before me, which included: hypocritical, opinionated, a know-it-all (elitist), unloving, judgmental, self-centered, and emotionally unstable (as a result of my lack of proper understanding of biblical scripture).
One of my spiritual disciples is to listen to what others say about me. I do this because I need to. In my head, I hear the worst about myself. The judgments I place on myself are harsh. The things I say to myself are not things I’d say to others. It is difficult for me to see good within. To figure out if what I was hearing in my head was true, I began listening to others. I then filter their observations of me and decide what is really true. What stays, what goes, and what needs work. The recent critiques waged against me are different than the critiques I’ve been hearing for the past 1.5 years. In fact, they sound very much like the ones I wage against myself. They are rooted in shame, and while I could brush them off as mean-spirited and untrue, I would miss an opportunity for growth. Thus, I carefully considered this person’s critiques, prayed, and consulted with trusted individuals who love me AND hold me accountable. I then shared my “taking the plank out of my eye” via my Facebook account as a way of honoring that space and holding myself accountable to myself and others.
I would venture many of us have few, if any, spaces where we are given the opportunity to examine our blind spots in the context of trustworthy and grounded relationships. This lack of opportunity forces us to hide, to put on our masks and work diligently to pretend we have our work, ministry, theology, ideologies, and more, all figured out. Having safe spaces to be wrong, grow, and transform is limited so we keep forging our way forward on a path that leads to the further demise of joy, relationships, and personal growth.
In their book, An Everyone Culture, leadership education researchers and practitioners, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, highlight three business organizations where human development is at the forefront of the cultural ethos. Grounded in human development and modern neurological development studies, Kegan and Lahey propose adult “mental complexity tends to increase with age… (and does so by) reaching plateaus that represent different ways of knowing the world.” The three adult plateaus are the socialized mind, the self-authoring mind, and the self-transformed mind.Progression through these levels happens in a dedicated community where circumstances are continually uncomfortable and uncertain. The organizations that develop their employees maintain such an environment by having relational, technical, and structural supports in place to foster human development. One key component of develpoment involves having employees acknowledge their blind spot or “immunity to change.” By examining their blind spots in a strategic and intentional way, employees are able to understand not only their own blind spots, but also the blind spots of others. With this knowledge, employees companywide help facilitate each other’s ability to overcome blind spots in safe and healthy ways so individuals can become their best self. The benefits from such development are vast and include the increasing success of the organization.
I wonder what the world would look like if we created more safe places for our blind spots to be examined. How would our social media feeds look if instead of blasting others for short comings, we were able to dialogue about our shared inability to live into the best version of ourselves? What might our workplaces, homes, and churches look like if vulnerability, accountability, and embracing weakness were integrated into our everyday practices? I wonder if we might become not just the best version of ourselves, but actually become more like Jesus? That, to me, seems to be the thing most lacking in the American church to date. How do we get there? According to Kegan and Lahey, as well as Jesus, it can be done, one person, one organization, and one intentional step “into the messy” at a time.
 Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2016) 60-61.
 Ibid., 62.
 Ibid., 201.