When we refuse to see what’s right in front of us

All day, I’ve noticed the left arm of my desk chair appears to be sticky. I keep rolling back a couple inches to get a better look at it. Touching it, gingerly, assuring myself that it is not my imagination. Wondering what caused it. Testing it to see if it’s still sticky. I ate a couple caramels last night but don’t think I got any on my keyboard or desk.

Things that make you go Hmm...

After spending a few too many minutes examining my chair today, I finally had had enough. I got a wet washcloth and scrubbed down the arm. Twice, just to be sure. I touched it carefully, and then with more confidence. Perfect. All right. Time to get back to work.

I put away the washcloth (well, tossed it towards the bathroom), pulled my chair back up to my computer and began to type. As I lifted my left arm to reach for something, I felt the fabric peel away from the chair. Again. I touched the chair, unbelieving, and found that it was, indeed, sticky again.

At the same time as I sighed in exasperation, the light bulb lit up over my head. I reached for my elbow. Turns out, my shirt sleeve was the source of the stickiness. It wasn’t the chair at all.

I had to laugh. How often do we look at the evidence directly in front of us and still refuse to believe what we see? For someone who prides herself on her ability to see clearly, to maintain an open mind and not jump to conclusions, I have to admit, it’s a little embarrassing. Granted, I have no idea how what appears to be syrup made its way onto my left elbow. We didn’t even have pancakes today (that was yesterday), although I did manage to wash off the overly sticky bottle this morning and put it away.

I don’t have any great insights to report from this little escapade. But as silly as it may seem, it’s made me think.

What situations do we put ourselves in over and over, what problems could we solve or avoid, if we just paid attention to the evidence before us? What answers to prayer are handed to us, right in plain sight, that we overlook again and again? I’m quick to notice the magnificent colors of the fall leaves floating on the breeze, ambling through the warm air to land in crunchy, fluffy piles. I’m happy to take pictures of my son playing soccer; and the clear, bright blue sky; and talk about whatever particularly good (or not-so-particularly-good) meal or trip or meeting I had that day.

Yet, still, I’m guilty of failing to pay attention. All it took was sixty seconds to discover the true problem, toss the dirty shirt into the laundry, pull on a clean t-shirt, and wipe down the arm of the chair one last time. But I wasted a lot of time earlier today because I was distracted. Because I wasn’t expecting the answer I got.

Are you feeling stuck? Fighting the same little annoying thing over and over again? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look and deal with the situation once and for all. Because as much as I enjoy Mrs. Butterworth, this was not the time or place for her to be. And sometimes we can waste a lot of time on little things that really don’t need to consume any more of our thoughts or attention.

One Response to “When we refuse to see what’s right in front of us”

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