Clueless Christian Surprised by Subtle Sin

Clueless Christian

During vacation last week I bravely went on a solitary hike down in the Chiricahua Mountains in southern Arizona. For some reason, no one else in my family felt like getting up at four in the morning, driving two hours from our camp site, and spending the day looking for birds. I love them all anyway.

I expected to see fellow birders out on the trails, but I had the forest to myself (along with a bottle of pepper spray). As I hiked along, I realized why I birded alone—instead of a multitude of birdsong, I only heard the plaintive cry of a Mexican Jay. Evidently I had arrived at the famous birding haven well ahead of the migratory birds.

After giving a mental shrug, I kept on hiking, hoping I’d see or hear at least one cool feathered friend before I headed back to camp. After a half a mile, a cheery little sound announced the presence of a bird, but since my auditory memory isn’t that great, I couldn’t figure out whom I should look for. Nor could I see anything. The giant pine and sycamore trees marched along the rocky creek bed, but I failed to see any fluttering wings or hopping movements.

My eyes glazed over as I stared at the bark of a nearby pine tree. Suddenly, the bark moved. Surprised, I yanked my camera into position and discovered that the moving bark had a long beak and two clingy claws. A Brown Creeper! It had been awhile since I had seen one, and I had never managed to get good photos before. I happily spent the next thirty minutes getting beautiful shots of the master of camouflage. If it hadn’t been for his sweet spring song, I would have walked right on by, clueless about his presence.Clueless Christian

Sometimes, I feel like a clueless Christian. I bop along doing my own things when, BAM, out of nowhere, I trip and fall. That happened this week when Pedro quietly admonished me for my less-than-loving attitude towards a colleague. In his wisdom, he spoke to me right before walking out the door for an appointment so I could pick myself up and examine his words in solitude.

As much as I hated to admit it, I have let my personal preferences for personality types overshadow my feelings—which in turn color my actions. Even though someone’s personality feels like fingernails on a chalkboard, Jesus calls me to respond in love.

God asks us to respond in love to the nails-on-the-chalkboard people in our lives. Click To Tweet

Instead, I go to great lengths to disguise my feelings about the person. I think I have done an admirable job of camouflaging my antipathy, when in reality I have secretly catalogued every scrape on the chalkboard. It doesn’t take long for those annoyances and unresolved interactions to gain bulk and weight to the point that I just. don’t. want. to. spend. any. time. around. that. person.

And so I enter the avoidance phase. I go out of my way to not show up where that person might be. I manufacture excuses for not showing support. In short, I think I have masterfully camouflaged my feelings but my actions sing out for the careful observer to hear and see.

That’s me. Clueless Christian surprised by subtle sin. Now it’s time to screw up my courage and restore the relationship by discussing my feelings in a kind way with the person I’ve been avoiding. I should probably thank Pedro for helping me recognize the error of my ways, too.

What about you?  Do subtle sins ever surprise you?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Yes, there are subtle attitudes and sins that elude me and then smack me right where I need it when I need my attitude adjusted. I am so need of His grace. I am not always good at noticing His little subtle hints… and sometimes I am and then I just chose to ignore that nudging which always turns out as the wrong thing to do. That’s why I say again… I so need His grace!

    Thanks for these words and sweet reminder!
    Rachel recently posted…When we can’t sleep and need restMy Profile

  • “subtle sin” indeed. Incredible that there are so many of those that pop in when you least expect it huh? And usually after I’ve felt pride for not being tempted by something.
    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • subtle sins. wham! that’s what is difficult right now about Ron’s condition. he often was that voice that noticed things that no one else did. he isn’t as astute now. i miss it so much. yes he can talk and discuss, but not like before.

    i need someone who will remind me of my subtle sins. the HS does it of course, but sometimes i need someone in my face! thanks for the reminder.
    Martha Brady recently posted…SURPRISED BY THE GOODNESS AND GRACE OF GOD!…My Profile

  • My subtle sin was always pride; taking jobs out of the hands of others because I could o them better.

    Great post
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 131 – The Jedi Way {FMF}My Profile

  • Those darn subtle sins. They do have a way of surprising us. And I so hear you about ither people. I avoid confrontation and conflict at all costs. I’m no good at that. Thanks for reminding me that God does call us to love all even our enemies. I’m in the 43 spot this week.
    Tara recently posted…Sweet SurprisesMy Profile

    • I don’t consider myself ‘good’ at confrontation, but I’m never too old to learn how to handle it in a kind, Christian (non-avoiding) way!>
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Living Forward is Triage for LifeMy Profile

  • Anita, what a beautiful bird! I’ve never seen one of those before. I love that it’s song is what drew your eyes to it.

    You have a good husband to lovingly (at least in heart) help you see areas of sin. God uses my man that way too, sometimes. He’s had to point out some of my subtle sins, those ones I’d rather ignore or discount. I’m glad God loves us enough to use those we love to help us become more like Jesus.

    I always appreciate your honesty, my friend.
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Surprise: Surprised By GraceMy Profile

  • UGH Anita, WHY did you have to go there? This is something I’ve struggled with long and hard, not towards a particular person, but persons with certain type attitudes or behaviors that I don’t care for – I melt into the woodwork and remain cold and distant, not getting involved. I need to love more and avoid less, and now you’ve done it – confirmed the thought! Thanks for that…

    Also, I loved your story and your bird picture and I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t want to rise at 4:00AM to go find birds with you! 😉 Your writing keeps me coming back every time, gal!

  • Ugh, this is convicting. Its so easy to feel righteously indignant towards these kinds of people.
    Melissa recently posted…Why I Keep A Planner and Bullet JournalMy Profile

  • Ah those subtle sins we don’t want to admit exist in our lives.

    May God help each of us have the courage to make things right and change our ways.
    GGMandy recently posted…Mixin’ It UpMy Profile

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one. I wrote a post once about sandpaper people – they rub me the wrong way, but God uses them to sand off my rough edges. One commenter pointed out that we’re all sandpaper people to somebody – yikes. That’s humbling. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s working through the Word of God and loved ones to show us these things.
    Barbara H. recently posted…Friday’s Fave FiveMy Profile

  • I’m not sure I know what you are talking about. (hehe… oh yeah – I do that too, my friend!) Great shots… and I am praying for you as you brave up and have a difficult, honest conversation!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…When the enemy comes in, it really shouldn’t be a Surprise… A Five Minute FridayMy Profile

  • Poppy Don

    OK, daughter, you caught me on this one. Just before reading this blog I spent 15 minutes watching videos of “The People of WalMart”… wagging my head and being judgemental. It’s hard to believe that people like that actually “live among us.”
    What am I saying? Live among us! Us who? The better ones. The smarter ones? Those that have a sense of tasteful living?
    Except for the grace of God I would be like every one of “them.” Jesus died for them, too… not just the “USes” of the world. How can I tell them that He loves them when I carry unLOVE for them in my heart?
    Good post!
    I must be one of the fingernails on the chalkboard of your life, because if I was asked to go I don’t remember it.

  • Thank you for this message. Subtle sins are dangerous. Lovely Birdie analogy.
    Blessings to you
    Ifeoma Samuel recently posted…When Life Feels Like a CompetitionMy Profile

  • First, your opening paragraph cracked me up. “I love them all anyway.” If that’s not family life summed up in one phrase, I don’t know what is.

    “Even though someone’s personality feels like fingernails on a chalkboard, Jesus calls me to respond in love.”

    Ouch. There’s someone in my life that I just can’t stand. I’d honestly prefer to listen to Sting and Dave Matthews perform a 15-hour song together than be anywhere near this person. (I loathe the music of Sting and Dave Matthews with an intensity that’s probably bordering on crazy). I, like you, try to just mask the irritation, but it leaks out. I know it does. I think I’m being so good and loving, but I’m really not.

    Tough read, sister, but good.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: SurpriseMy Profile

  • Convicted, friend. Thank you. Subtle sins as you speak of hit too close to my heart. But that’s a good thing, I realize. I’m pretty good at covering up my “subtle-ness” but I know it leaks out. Thank you for prompting me to address this… and soon. Love your stories. Love your heart. Much love to you.
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