Whenever I hear the word blinders, it is usually associated with a personal weakness or area of that is unseen in one's own life. However, last week I got a fresh take on the word. I had recently come out of one of the roller coaster times of comparison that so many of us experience. I pondered horse racing and began to think about the purpose of blinders.
Dallas Equestrian Center says:
Horses sometimes need to be made to focus and blinders keep the horse’s eye focused on what is ahead, rather than what is at the side or behind.
The concept seems defeating, placing coverings over the side views of these beautiful animals as they prepare to run. How would horses have a clear view? Would the lack of full vision cause them to stumble? Perhaps they would freak out and be paralyzed by the blinders? These inventions were instead, thoughtfully and wisely placed as coverings for the horses who were off to the races.
Horses are prey animals and have peripheral vision. A horse's eyes are located on the sides of his head, allowing him to see a panoramic view of the world. In fact, horses can see a nearly full circle around themselves except for a small blind spot in front of their noses and behind their tails. Blinders cover the rear and side vision of the horse, forcing him to focus only in a forward direction. The reduction in vision for horses wearing blinders is significant and can reduce a horse's vision from 180 degrees to as little as 30 degrees, depending on the size and depth of the blinders.-Alie Maheux
The blinders serve a greater purpose of preventing the horse from seeing the competition, giving the horse a clear focus on the path in front of him, and motivating the steed.
1. Prevention of Comparison
As we live our lives, we do not have to go out in public to fight comparison, it creeps into our homes and finds us via social media, television and the internet. The weight of comparison is so heavy today, that it is a burden too large for anyone to carry. If we allow the Lord to place His protective blinders on us, we will not be focused on the lives and callings of others around us, but rather that path God has set in front of us.
2. Clear focus
The blinder are God's grace. So often in life, we desire to have all of the answers and are fearful of the unknown, but our God knows all. If we can trust that His blinders are there for a reason, we can rest in the present moment He has for us. We are then able to see what He has right now to accomplish in His name.
According to Maheux, blinders are also used as a motivator for the horses.
Some racehorse trainers also use blinders to make a horse start and run faster by making him believe he is further behind the pack than he actually is.
Most of the time, the Lord is working behind the scenes. We are unable to view our lives from His point of view and might even feel further "behind." When these thoughts of doubt and frustration come, we can lay them down to God and ask Him to use what we cannot see as motivators of trust and faith that He is working and knitting together something beautiful around us.
Sometimes we desire to see it all... our future spouse, our career, our children, our vacations, our struggles ahead, our old age, but the grace of God allows us that 30 degrees of pure focus on the present. The world tries to rip off those blinders of the narrow way and give us 180 degree views. We might even believe that we can see more clearly or that we have more freedom, but as panic arises and competition appears fierce, we quickly realize that we lose our focus on the prize.
Today, may we rest with our blinders. May we stop worrying about what others are doing and look at our own paths. May we rejoice in the fact that our loving Savior gives us each a unique path to run for His glory.
And whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 CSB