Perception Versus Reality

November 10, 2013

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The other day my son was telling me I was in a bad mood that morning. I assured him I was not as my oldest son agreed. No matter how much I tried to convince my youngest, he would not be persuaded. I had been grumpy.

His perception, whether accurate or not, had become his reality.

This paradox appears in politics and the workplace. You might come armed with facts as to why a perception or an accusation is not true, but facts don’t have the power to sway pubic opinion in an instant

This happens in our marriages. How often do we use words like “always” or “never”. Do we ever find ourselves having conversations like this?

One spouse says, “I do this (task) as much as you do.”
The other spouse (usually the scorekeeping husband (not that I relate to this)), says, Well in fact I do this 72.6 percent of the time as compared to your 27.3 percent.

We all know the end of the story right? The statistic laden man immediately persuades his out of touch wife.

NOT! He may in fact be carrying the truth of reality, but perception is a powerful opponent.

In communication we often repeat the mantra, “It is not what you say, it is what people hear.” Herein is a simple truth which affects all areas of life, not merely communication. You can’t just go around beating people on the head with, “But I said it!”

My wife and I are currently engaged in a battle of perception versus reality with our youngest son. He knows how to swim, but is being paralyzed by fear. We are working with him to reverse his perception, and move into the reality of him actually knowing how to swim.

How do we do this? In minor issues such as overcoming fear of swimming, but in all areas of our lives.

It is normal to have a perception of God which is not consistent with reality.

Here are few principles which can get us to swim or replace misperception with reality.

Focus on what is true, over and over again. The first time we hear truth, it does not have a magical effect on us to replace the lies. We need to remind ourselves over and over. I always say the Bible repeats itself because we “are stupid” and need to hear things again and again.

Get the help of others and ultimately of God. We were not created by God to be islands and fix ourselves. We need the reinforcement of truth to come from others. Ultimately all growth and change comes from an act of grace in our lives from God himself. Take away people and it is monastic, take away God and its humanist. We need both elements working together.

Be patient. If change were as simple as just believing the truth, all of us would be in a much different place. True change only occurs over time.

It might take months of having my son recite, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

It could take endless pep talks and prayer times where we ask God to help him overcome his fear.

But I believe one day my son will swim and this will be a marker in his life. I am confident he will remember this victory when he is faced with other fears. I am believing for his false perception to change into reality

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God