Perception And Truth – Not the Same Thing

“The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.”  Bryant H. McGill

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”  Friedrich Nietzsche 

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again?”  Rosa Parks

Recently I said to someone “Perception is everything”. and at the time it seemed to be.  Not only that, it seemed stronger than the truth. But that statement has sort of haunted me.  As I have continued to think about it, I have remembered that no matter what the cliche, perception is usually not the truth.  While perception has certain implications and consequences, and can seem to be the last word on a particular subject, it is usually not truth’s equal.  I personally value truth much higher. 

I tend to forget sometimes that the opinions of others don’t matter.  OK, I tend to forget it a lot. And in the context of our day to day life, unfortunately they seem to.  Lately I had that circumstance come up that happens to us all….someone said something about me that wasn’t true.  That in itself wasn’t what hurt the most.  What really hurt was that people who I felt knew that it wasn’t true did not defend me.  They just let the statement stand.  People who did not know me took it as fact.  In the context of life and the context of time, it will not matter.  But for that moment  it stung and was devastating.

So my reaction?  I got defensive.  I sometimes feel that I live with a defensive shield in my right hand at all times.  That’s what I lead with.  Almost always.  When someone says things to me that hurt, or do things to me that hurt, I pull up that shield and try to hide behind it.  I’m not very fast…..usually the me behind that shield is injured.  But perhaps my “opponent” doesn’t see.  That is my hope.

Lately I feel especially gouged.  I have had to have that shield up often.  I dodge to the right, I dodge to the left.  My soul cries out in frustration. I try to cling to God, but sometimes feel my arms aren’t long enough to reach.  And they aren’t.  (And if they were, there would be amazing players in my way, playing the world’s best defense, still keeping me at bay.)

But instead…..this I know.  God’s arms are long enough to reach me and he just knocks those defensive players down.  His arms can find me and comfort me.  They can lead me.  They can protect me.  While I am inadequate, God is not.  He is sufficient.  He has every day of my life planned, every hair on my head numbered (this is not as difficult as it used to be before the days of peri-menopause, but that is a subject for another day.  It once was a feat beyond imagination.)  To him I have value and purpose.

In this situation I felt like God said “Wait on me.”  Not my favorite command.  I want to do something.  I want to fight injustice.  And while that defensive posture was my first strike, and I had a whole battle plan set to go, God said no.  He reminded me that sometimes I need to do nothing but pray and watch and trust Him to work.  And while I was in the right about that particular thing, He showed me other areas of my life that I needed to work on instead.  He reminded me that I was not so great, but still He sees me as totally amazing and worthwhile. (But obviously not perfect!)  So I tried to leave it alone and invested my time in these other things that needed work.

Today, out of the blue, I had my first answer to that prayer.  God went beyond my expectations and showed me some of His protection.  It is encouraging.  It is humbling.  And the story is not over yet.

Other people will impact my life.  People will lie.  People will hurt me.  People will look at me and see something that is not there…..or they will look at me and see only the negative things that make up who I am.

They won’t see the love of God that covers those things, they won’t see the good in me or the growth in me, how far I have come, and how far I can possibly go. But as for me, I need to make sure that I am living in truth, that I am looking at myself in truth, and I am looking to God to define truth.  I believe that there are natural consequences for our actions, both good and bad.  And I believe truth eventually rises to the surface.  Everything else will sink.

Perception is nothing, really.  It is formed on the basis of rumors, innuendo, boredom, entertainment, misplaced power, someone having a bad day, someone having a bad life, anger, suspicion, people getting defensive, someone passing the buck, people being too lazy to seek truth….so many things.  Sometimes that perception seems bigger than we are.  And it can definitely impact our lives.  We can only do so much to fight it.  We need to leave it to God.   As for ourselves, we need to keep looking in an unwarped mirror and deal with what we see.   We need to make sure that we are living truthfully, and that we are the kind of people that God likes.  And that we are not the kind of people who are impacting the lives of others with mere perceptions, not backed up by truth.

“There are six or seven kinds of people the Lord doesn’t like:  Those who are too proud or tell lies or murder, those who make evil plans or are quick to do wrong, those who tell lies in court or stir up trouble in a family.”   Proverbs 6:16-19

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2 thoughts on “Perception And Truth – Not the Same Thing

  1. What I think about when my sister comes to mind is the time in my life that she helped my children to feel loved and secure when they needed a strong sense of stability. They got that from her when she was already very busy. I agree that perception is nothing; people can create any kind of perception they want to if they are willing to put the time into it. I also believe that even if we pride ourselves at being able to “read” people, our own perceptions are not nearly as accurate as we would like to believe. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV)

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  2. Kim, I'm sorry you are hurting over lies.Perception is reality until you have the truth. If perception didn't matter then what people said/thought/did wouldn't matter. Perception drives our actions. What we need to do is make sure perception and reality/truth are the same. Clearing up lies/falsehoods/misunderstandings is something we should all do.I'm not big on gossip. For me, there is a line between asking about someone and then getting gossip. I often ask about family and friends but try to discount gossip and if I think I'm hearing anything that is innuendo/gossip I try to stop it right there or at least voice that it is counter to who/what I know about that person. I ask for details facts to back that up.I think that is one of the reasons I don't really spend a lot of time with or around my neighbors. I only speak to a few of them that I happen to know and that is usually via the kids. The rest are accidents of geography and I don't want to get caught up in neighborhood gossip.I don't really care what others think of or about me. The only exception is family, close family. I am who/what I am and I answer to God. I don't live for them and can't control what they do or think.I'm sorry you were hurt. I wish I was there to wrap you in my arms for a big hug and share mexican food with you! I love you unconditionally. You are my friend. I know we disagree on lots of things and we agree on lots of things. I tend to forget which those are because they don't matter. You are the person I and my family love dearly and all the rest is just meaningless.I'm sorry you feel you need a shield. I don't think I'd like living that way. I hope you can come to know it doesn't matter, really doesn't matter what people think. You are the one that knows.You are loved dear friend.

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