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The Watchers

I had a very palpable sense of being watched. Barely below the level of consciousness, this awareness colored my experiences and choices. Spies were everywhere. Sometimes I saw them, but mostly I never caught a glance of my watchers. They were too skilled at evading detection. There was no place so remote, no corner so dark, no moment so private that I could escape their watchful eyes. They monitored and noted for future reference my every thought, every word, every action.

I had always been told that God would watch over me and protect me. His all-seeing eye also watched and judged every action. His angels wrote down everything that I did. Lucifer, the fallen angel, and his demonic hordes studied my every action, looking for weaknesses, scheming how to exploit holes in my discipline, howling in satisfied laughter when I screwed up and told a lie or thought too specifically about that cute brunette in my class. Deceased grandparents would check in on me from time to time to make sure I was doing well and that I wasn’t embarrassing the family. My future children would also visit from time to time to see how their Dad was shaping up. People who weren’t members of the Mormon church were watching me to judge the merits of the Church’s teachings. If I wasn’t a good example by avoiding the very appearance of evil, they would not join the Church. They would suffer and I would be held accountable by God for how my actions led them astray. My little brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces watched me and mimicked what they saw. I would be held accountable if they mimicked the bad that I did. My peers watched me, judged me deciding if I was smart or stupid, handsome or ugly, fun or boring, strong or vulnerable, cool or embarrassing.

I had an unseen audience made up of these different groups for everything that I did by the time I hit that wall of awkward early adolescence. I suspect that like most people at this age, my ego was very fragile. It was terribly hungry and easily wounded. Every choice that I made was filtered through what I imagined would be the reaction of this motley mob. Every silly mistake or shameful action subjected me to the judgment and derision (as I imagined it) of this mob of onlookers. My life became a performance for the benefit of my audience. Their jeers struck at my tender ego. Their cheers gave me temporary reprieve. I could never find a private moment away from them.

For those who crave the spotlight, being the focus of this watchful presence may not have been such a problem. My natural shyness, introversion, and desire to please, however, turned this audience into a constant stress. I lived in a world of mild, simmering paranoia too ubiquitous to notice consciously but which nevertheless dragged on me, pulled on me, threatened to drown me without my awareness that anything was amiss.



  1. Anna said,

    January 22, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

    I just wanted to comment and say it takes a brave person to stand up and say I’m not going to pretend anymore, but still search for the truth. Hang in there.

  2. Jonathan Blake said,

    January 22, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

    Coming from you, Anna, this means a lot to me. Thank you.

  3. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 4, 2007 @ 9:51 am

    I’m not the only one traumatized by the idea of constant, ubiquitous surveillance.

  4. Cybr said,

    June 9, 2007 @ 12:07 am

    Wow, all this time I was hoping you wouldn’t catch me. I’ll have to find a darker corner to watch from now.

  5. Green Oasis » Lithium for Jesus said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

    [...] And then there’s Satan and his minions? Though Christianity didn’t create the idea of malevolent unseen spirits, it did nothing to quell its spread. Christianity in my life taught me to fear the temptations of legions of demons. [...]

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