Sometimes in life, we come across people who strike us as lacking perspective. What they hear, think, and see becomes reality to them. When lies begin to skew our view of the truth, perception becomes reality.
Notice how a child perceives a discussion, for example: two adults engage in conversation at a higher-than-usual volume, neither of them smiling, gesticulating wildly with their hands. They might be discussing a common dislike of something, not arguing with one another but commiserating. A child would still perceive this as a fight because of missing information and understanding.
So many issues and events today are perceived, then those perceptions are frozen as facts. Without very much research at all, people take a stand on all types of issues simply based on their perceptions of reality. Where is the tact or love in these situations?
I have been recently engaged in these kinds of situations–where I bumped up against a hardline perception in someone else–and it’s shaken my confidence. On multiple occasions, I’ve been challenged by the opinions of others based solely on how they perceive me and my point of view. I’m a stay-at-home mother and Catholic woman, and I’ve had my beliefs and my literal day-to-day functions criticized and disregarded by someone who doesn’t even know me. Since I’m not one to engage in a debate based on poor information, I tried to bring peace to the situation. This meant not fighting their perception with protest, in the hopes that it might make them question their negative assessment of me.
A couple of Super Bowls ago, I begrudgingly watched the New England Patriots win. As a Miami Dolphins fan, I instinctively dislike them as rivals. I perceive them as bad. Every play I saw, I would pick apart and perceive it the way a rival would. On the flip side, a Patriots fan would see each play positively as an opportunity to win.
In the end, the better team won, and that’s that. No amount of telling myself they cheated or that one referee call was bad can change the actual truth. Two teams went on that field and played their hearts out, and the better team won. Whether I like it or not, the Patriots just wanted the win more than the other team, and they proved it.
In my striving to be a thoughtful person, I have to be able to see past my childlike perception to win and lose the same way. If only life were that easy. If only every individual could try walking in another’s shoes before they let what’s true to them destroy what’s true.
My grandfather was a blind man who never saw with his eyes a day in his life. He chose a wife without seeing her, and he had four children he never looked upon. He had to base a lot of what he did on the perceptions of others. Yet, I have never met a man less blinded, and I think that’s because he couldn’t see. Having to judge something solely based on what he could hear, feel, or smell gave him a unique perspective that I think we could all learn from. Not seeing with the world’s eyes, as the world saw, gave him the ability to make judgments with his heart.
Jesus stood next to a woman perceived as an adulteress, a grave sinner, and he saw salvation. He bravely addressed an angry mob and proclaimed “He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And just like that, their perception changed.
Go and sin no more. Walk a mile or even a minute in the soles of another soul before you pass hard judgments. Remember that at the root of it all should be great love and compassion for every human, even if we don’t perceive their reality.
Be safe. Be great. Be YOU!
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Where in your own life have you have disagreed with someone but been able to meet them in love and compassion to find common ground?
2. What are some historical examples of people with different ideologies who were able to reach reconciliation?
3. What can you do today to reach out in love to someone in your own sphere of influence who perceives things differently than you, so that real communication can begin?