Our sight is something we take for granted. Most of us can’t even imagine what it would be like to be blind, even for a time. However, we equally take for granted that what we see we actually see. In day to day life we assume that we see accurately and understand what we see. To a certain extent we must make this assumption in order to negotiate everyday life. We wouldn’t get much done if we were constantly stopping to question whether we seen something correctly. But optical illusions, or situations like the recent internet phenomenon of the color shifting dress, occasionally bring us and our assumptions about our vision up short.
Such experiences have led some to propound nearly complete philosophical skepticism about our experience of the world. Our senses are unreliable. So we don’t really experience the world objectively, they say, rather our senses take in data and our minds shape it into our own personal reality. In effect, we each live in our own private worlds, created in our minds from the raw materials that our limited senses offer. Of course, most people who make such grandiose philosophical claims don’t really live accordingly. They really don’t appreciate it when my personal reality impinges upon theirs.
Nevertheless, it is true that we don’t see accurately and understand fully what we see. And while we can’t let that lead us into practical paralysis nor bad philosophy, it should lead us to humility. We should approach difficulties in life, marriage, parenting, ministry, business, etc. open to the likelihood that there are at least some aspects of the situation that we are misapprehending.
This is particularly relevant in handling conflicts with people in our homes and work places. We often think we see situations so clearly. We even convince ourselves that we see and understand the motives of others. This often leads us to rash and hurtful actions. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands (sees?) take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). A dose of humility in these moments is not misspent. We should humbly seek for the Spirit to shine the light of Christ on the situation. And we should remain open to the possibility that He will correct our vision through Scripture, or more uncomfortably, through the corrective word of others.