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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Shadow

May 6th, 2008

It’s 8:27 AM. I’m running 5 minutes late. Grab the keys, pull the door shut behind me and hit the garage door button on the way out. The motor drones and plays the familiar tune of creaking and rolling and lifting, the morning anthem that starts my day.

A double glance in the rear view mirror (I’ve heard the stories about people backing before looking) tells me I’m cleared for takeoff. Out in the driveway I reach up, push the button to close the garage door and…

Nothing.

Ever notice that stuff like this never happens on days you have plenty of time?

Press the button again. And again. Harder. Really hard.

Nothing.

As if harder would fix it. Kind of like how every game of Pictionary has people who think their answer will be right if they just keep saying it louder.

Get out of the car. Check the wall mounted opener on the inside.

Nothing.

I was about to engage the manual override (pull that red cord thingy and drop the door like our grandparents, who were their own garage door opener) when I remembered a random thing my friend Brent had said in a conversation several months ago. He said during certain times of the year, during certain times of the day, his garage door won’t go down.

Could it be?

Remembering what he said, I checked the eastern sky and looked down at the safety sensor mounted at the bottom of the track. Positioning my body just so, I cast an intervening shadow…

…and pressed the button.

Door down.

The sensor was so blinded by the sun that it couldn’t read the steady signal being sent by it’s companion on the other side.

It happens to us, too. This blindness. For some, it’s an overbooked schedule that keeps us from hearing the requests for balance being sent by our families. For some, it’s a chronic circumstance or a painful past that, over time, we’ve allowed to define us. For some, it’s an addiction that dulls us to everything except our next fix of food or drugs or alcohol or pornography. Whatever “it” is, it’s in our face. Incessant and relentless, it prevents us from seeing the steady signals being sent by the other side; the side we need in order to function in the way we’re designed to do.

It takes an intervening shadow. Someone to step in between you and whatever is blinding your vision. A friend who stands in the gap long enough to get your attention and long enough for you to hear the messages you’ve not been receiving. In the extreme, it’s a full blown intervention. In the day to day, it should be a friend or friends we regularly invite to be the intervening shadow in our life.

These past couple years have been, in more ways than I can say, hell for me. Yet a decision I made early on has meant the difference between success and failure. The difference between sanity and insanity. The difference between hope and futility. The difference between character and cowardice. My decision? I purposely and pro-actively surrounded myself with intervening shadows. Counselors, advisors, mentors and friends, many of them older and all of them wiser than me. I gave every one of them permission to point out my blind spots. I gave every one of them permission to kick my butt if they thought I needed it.

Suffice it to say they did some pointing.

And no small amount of butt kicking.

And it made all the difference.

In relationships, there is a difference between “being transparent” and “being vulnerable”. Transparency means I control how much of me I let you see. Vulnerability means I give you permission to work truth into my life. We can be transparent with many. Vulnerable with only a few. A small circle of intervening shadows, committed to our growth and bent on doing their part in helping us to “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). It’s hard work. Gut wrenching work, if you’re doing it right. You’ll cry and you’ll cuss. But the character and clarity of vision that comes from committed friendships is invaluable.   

Whatever’s in your face, whatever’s blinding you, get some intervening shadows in your life. You can’t afford to surround yourself with a bunch of “yes” people who tell you what you want to hear. You need people who will stand in the gap and tell you the truth until you’re able to tell the truth to  yourself.

My life and my future are too important. I can’t afford to be the leader of my own “rubber stamp parade”.

Neither can you.

“Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

– Proverbs 27:5-6

 

Todd A. Thompson – www.ASliceOfLifeToGo.com