Friday, July 12, 2013

Reminder Sticker

There's a oil change reminder sticker on the floor of our bedroom. It's been there for days. No... the carpet doesn't need its oil changed. I work at a quick-lube shop, and I know how it got there, having fallen out of a pocket, whilst I changed clothes one afternoon this week. It's still there for one very simple reason:
I don't want to pick it up. Not in some psycho-metaphysical sense. I'm just lazy. So I pretend not to see it.

Here's the thing, though - I see everything.

Really, I do.

I see the dime on the floor of the entryway, the box of recyclables in the guest room, the spots on the bathroom mirror from brushing too close, my towel on the bedroom door, the socks at the foot of my bed. I notice the cat litter under-foot near the box, the smell coming from the garbage disposal, the old Tupperware of mystery food in the back of the fridge…

I see it all.

This is a big confession for me. Admitting you see something means taking responsibility for it. I can now be blamed for the sticker on the floor. It means acknowledging that something needs to be done. To not do it is to simply shirk that responsibility. To pretend to ignore it is to be dishonest. It's a subtle lie, but a lie nonetheless.

I see other things as well - interpersonal stickers on the relational floor. I can see times, when fighting, that my wife really wants to he hugged, the young guy in my college group who secretly wants to hang out, the members of my family who wish that I'd call more often. I see those, too, and selfishly choose to ignore them when it suits my needs to do so.

There are also things I see on a macro-level - giant stickers, covered in floor-fuzz, tangled in the carpet of our world, that many of us choose to ignore - the homeless man on the corner, the neighbor that may be abusing his wife, the third-world villagers who who are dying for lack of clean water, the struggling missionaries and charities who desperately need our dollars and prayers.

I see them all, and you do too.

We choose to ignore them for the sake of another latte, a new pair of jeans, a meal out with friends, or a few nights of vacation. To admit that we see would be a huge confession, though. Seeing it means we're responsible. It means we could help to change it, but choose not too, out of laziness or selfishness.

It's not always willful, however. After ignoring the problem for so long, we eventually become blind to it. We don't even notice the dust on the shelf, or the friend who skipped lunch again. We become so engrained in the patterns and habits of our own lives that we fail to see anything that doesn't fit into or affect them.

We wear blinders, so focused on our own lives, our own tasks, our own issues that we are literally blind to the things around us. Sometimes culture contributes to our blindness, sometimes it's the way we're raised, sometimes it's by choice - slow, habitual, and infectious. Usually, it's a combination of them all, and more.

It doesn't remove the responsibility, though.

If I ignore the cobwebs in the corner, I'm still culpable...

I didn't even create the cobwebs! However, they're in my house. Being part of a household, a community, a family means we take responsibility for the things that need to be done. Ignoring them, hoping that someone else will do it, is inconsiderate. It's unloving.

This is true whether we're discussing cobwebs, or conflict chocolate. Ignoring it makes you guilty.

Perhaps you're not in a place where you can make a difference financially. That's fine. You can still give something. You can give of yourself, your voice, your prayers, or perhaps you can cut corners, carving out space in your budget to be able to donate dollars. That decision is up to you. One thing is sure, though. You can't ignore it. You mustn't ignore it.

Because either it's time to change the oil...or we need to get that sticker off the floor.


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