Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.–Albert Einstein
They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s harmless. There are beasts sneaking around in the shadows of our hearts, whose main goals are to go unnoticed, just long enough to steal our breath away, sucking the light right out of our existence.
The great northwest is soaked through with grey skies, mud puddles and cool temperatures and we all feel like we are dying of vitamin D deficiencies, one wet and dreary day at a time. We hunger for something more – for an adventure. And today my kids are finding it on the big screen.
I know we could be out back slinging mud or building forts in the living room. But, we’ve already checked those things off our list and I am kind of o.k. with a break in our dirty quest to trample boredom. Most things really are more fun with friends and that is as much true for slinging mud and building forts as it is for playing video games in the family room. So, when ‘vids’ are our chosen form of adventure for the hour the TV is usually split into two or three or four squares, each displaying another man’s world.
Believe it or not – there is a strict protocol for multi-screen playing and all too often ‘screen peekers’ rise to the surface. In this crazy 3D world, in which I spend most of my time running into walls and getting motion sick – screen peeking is voodoo. Or at least it is in our house. It is the crime of all crimes and even my blood runs hot when I hear one of my kids accusing another one of such fraudulent behavior. I don’t care what game they are playing. I want them to play it right, believing in who they are and respecting those around them. So, when the accusations fly I feel really compelled to use the situation to remind them what they were created for and that they are selling themselves short.
Maybe I am overreacting but I feel like there are windows of opportunity everywhere. Teachable moments just waiting for us to grab hold. Portholes full of wisdom, offering a clarity we all need every now and again in our lives. And sometimes, if I pause and ponder them long enough, even the smallest amount of brilliance is bright enough to shine some light into my life.
You hope your child will do what is right while the world looks on. But, it’s when no on else is watching that true character is built. Most of the time no one can see a competitor’s eyes diverting to their neighbor’s square for a quick peek. Most often, no one suspects them until they are crushing everything in their path and finding their fellow gamers in even the most covert hiding places. But, that’s not the point. They shouldn’t be doing it, regardless of who does or doesn’t see it. Regardless of who else is or isn’t doing it. And every time they do, they are stealing a little bit of someone else’s light and dimming their own at the same time.
It’s funny how often we hold our kids to standards we aren’t always quite willing to live up to ourselves. It’s a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing and I am guilty as charged because I expect my kids to steer clear of screen peeking while I dabble in it myself all the time.
Adult screen peeking is generally much less obvious and therefore, much more dangerous. We don’t usually do it in an attempt to get the upper hand or to defeat our opponents – although many rally to rise above their fellow-man. I don’t think we even know we are doing it half the time. It’s just so dang hard keeping our eyes on the prize and off the Jones in our lives.
My world is a crazy, real life, multiplayer game. There are boxes scattered all over the screen of my days and I’m ashamed to admit I find myself peeking at the girls next door quite a bit. In fact, I’ve probably sneaked a peek or two at you.
I’m not trying to figure out where you are hiding so I can hunt you down and earn more points. In fact, there’s no reason for you to be afraid. Through no fault of your own, it’s you and your shiny life that fills me with fear. A fear that says I am not good enough, or smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough. Your bright life just makes mine seem so dull and hollow in comparison.
It’s said that iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. But, both must be fortified for this to happen. When I am wasting time analyzing my life next to yours I turn to mush and I am worthless to you and you to me.
The ghastly beast I am getting at here is just that. My innate urge to compare myself to everyone else. It’s the kind of demon that sneaks around in the shadows of my heart gaining strength every time I sneak a peek.
There are writers out there whose fingers seem to dance on the keyboard, transposing their heart’s cry into marvelous love songs to the world. Their correspondence with creation just seems to change things. Others appear to effortlessly fuse simple stories with such authentic humor, transforming them into the most delightful interludes – feeding the world’s weary souls with, much-needed, replenishing doses of laughter. A lovely gift which seems to be reserved for only an elite crew of authors.
When I peek at their screens I am paralyzed. Their writing makes mine look simple, flat and intelligible. Their multitude of followers make my handful of devoted dear ones seem insignificant. And I begin to doubt that the fire, burning within me, to put pen to paper is real.
There are bionic women in my life who juggle kids, house and a career with such valor I cannot help but sneak peeks into their courageous lives. Their load is double the size of my own, yet they bear it with such strength and perseverance, creating heroine status even in the most mundane of tasks.
My worth is depleted, for not only is my house a mess, my laundry backed up, my keys lost and my dinner burning – but I’m not even bringing home any bacon to fry up in my now ruined pan. Not to mention, my kids are freaking ‘SCREEN PEEKING’!!
Then there are my counterparts, my fellow stay-at-homers. Good Lord, you should see how they shine. Their aprons are prettier than mine. Their kids are smarter than mine. Their hearts are purer than mine and their spirits are stronger than mine. They are better wives, better christians, better parents and better PTA members. They are so crazy shiny it often hurts my eyes.
Every time I sneak a peek, I self inflict a wound to my being which, most assuredly, is slowly but steadily leading up to my own demise.
One of the simplest rules God gave His people early on was thou shall not covet thy neighbor. Essentially He was telling them not to screen peek. He knew their neighbor’s shine had the potential of blinding them from their own.
Yes, my neighbors are shiny. But, I am blessed to be playing this game of life in the squares beside them. I am surrounded by a multitude of goodness and beauty. And I need to see the proprietors of such brilliance like my fellow gamers. They may have more points than me or better tools in comparison but we are not battling this life out against one another. We are comrades not enemies. Your light should be showing me the way, not darkening the circles under my eyes.
I know God created each of us with a plan and a purpose. This knowledge leaves no room for exceptions, meaning I cannot exclude myself. The Creator of the radiant sun which reflects off the night sky, scattered with twinkling starlight, also knit me together in my mother’s womb. The brilliance with which He breathes life into the vast variety of animals sprinkled across creation also fills my lungs and offers me the will to live. The orchestrator of the universe, the artist who painted the mountains into existence and the marvel who lit the fields with an endless supply of wildflowers also jimmy-rigged little ‘ol me into actuality. In these truths I realize that who I am, who I was created to be – even in all my iniquities – is pretty shiny too. Not better than you or as good as you – just good enough to be me and be ok with it.
Thank God for tiny moments of clarity, revealing the sneaky beasts hiding in the shadows of my heart. These are the kind of sneak peeks that I really need.
Our squares on the screen are really pretty wonderful when life isn’t a competition. And I am a much better player when I realize we’re all on the same team – each of us bringing something special to the table, making us stronger as a whole.
Please forgive me for screen peeking on you – for subconsciously attempting to steal a little bit of your light while unknowingly squelching my own. Come sharpen me with your bright and shiny iron. I can take it now. I am stronger. Feel free to rub your brilliance off on me and I’ll do my best to give some back.
If you don’t screen peek – good for you. Shine on my friend. But, if you do, I’m going to tell you what I tell my kids, what God told His kids…
Knock it off. You were made for more than this:)
Now the game. Your game. The one that only you was meant to play. The one that was given to you when you came into this world. You ready? Take your stance. Don’t hold nothing back. Give it everything.
- The Legend of Bagger Vance (movie)