Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Perception vs. Reality

It's funny how you can start thinking about something and then you find all sorts of examples of it all around you.
Over the last week or so I started thinking of my childhood and wondering if my perception of it (which is not very pleasant) was in fact reality. I've tried for years to focus on the positive things from growing up in my family, but when I really think about it and try to remember it there are a lot of feelings of unhappiness, depression, and anger. But I also know that I wasn't the easiest child in the world to raise. I was always pretty independent and feisty.
So, is the reality hidden somewhere in between my bad memories (perceptions) and what other family members remember? (I've thought about asking my brothers and sister what they remember about growing up, but I'm not really close enough to them to do that.) Is reality my parents' side of the story? Or is it somewhere else entirely?
It's nice to think that God is all-knowing and has the ability to see each situation for what it really is. He can take into account our personalities, our weaknesses, our intentions, and what's in our hearts. But that's God and I'm just me- so I still wonder what the reality is. I try to focus on the good things in my childhood- those occassions that we did something fun or interesting, treasured times of feeling wanted or special. I'd rather not dwell on the bad. I'm not them and they're not me so there's no reason to build up my own perceptions and tear them down. I just wish I could figure out how to bridge the gap that still exists between me and my family.
Enough of that, though.
As I was busy thinking along these lines I was struck by our last Sunday School lesson when we were discussing Laman and Lemuel and their reactions to situations, versus Nephi's reactions. It seems to me that it's all about the perceptions again. They were all going through the same exact situation but each one had a completely different take on it. Nephi saw it as a challenge to overcome and a chance to be obedient. Laman and Lemuel saw it as a deprivation and a hardship, something they'd rather not be "forced" to do. Each person saw it through their own perception of reality so it was just as "real" for Laman and Lemuel as it was for Nephi. In this case Laman and Lemuel's perceptions held them back and made them miserable, while Nephi's perception helped to strengthen him. And all the while the reality was that they were going through the same things, just in different ways.
I know I'm skipping around a bit here, but I was waffling on whether to even write this post, and then I also read Jamie's blog on being ordinary and it just fit so perfectly with this line of thought that I figured this was as good a subject to write on as any.
We all sometimes (or often) feel "ordinary." But, again, our feelings of inadequacy or thoughts of being ordinary are really just more perceptions- not necessarily reality. We've taken what we see and experience and put our own "spin" on them. We take our natural abilities for granted, to the point that we don't even recognize them as the extraordinary talents they really are. Our perception of this doesn't make it real. Just ask your friends and family for their perceptions of you! They often see things about ourselves that we don't even notice. And somewhere in all of these different perceptions is the truth. If we want to discover the reality of who we are, ultimately we will have to depend on Heavenly Father, because He is the only one with the complete picture, with all the sides to the story... He is the only one who really knows.
I guess that's the answer to my ponderings about my family also. I need to leave it in God's hands and keep an open mind to the possibility that my perceptions may very well be wrong. I may not be in touch with "reality!" And that's okay. Because I'm more concerned with finding out about God's reality than with being right.


Leslie said...

Looove it! What great insights you always have. I think you're right on the money. We really do need to rely on Heavenly Father if we truth about anything.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for your example.

Papa D said...

Your reality is your reality. My advice: Don't try to dig into the past and find a different reality. The one you have right now is wonderful; accept and be grateful for it and continue to let Him make it even better.

God really will sort out whatever the objective "real" is from your childhood; let Him do it for you.

Louann and Bari said...

I've thought about that now and then- my reality and what Reality really is. Thanks for letting me know I'm not crazy for debating the issue- and thanks for your clear insight on the subject.

cassie said...

Your thoughts were great as usual. I think we all struggle with this. The best way I have found it to step outside my own emotions and to try to look at the facts.

But I can always remember at family gatherings right, my father telling a story from childhood, and grandpa yelling, you never remember anything good that happened to you.

But really the "good" stories just aren't the funny/dramatic ones most of the time.

chelle said...

Everything is based on persecption. And everyones preception is different. Which can be both good and bad.
It is difficult to get past our childhood or wild younger years. I know we have to rely on our HF to get through it. But, I for one have not figured how to totally let go yet! If only we could preceive ourselves as HE preceives us! We wouldn't be dwelling on the past. =\

Mama D said...

What a wonderful way to say this! You have a way with words. Ray often tells me: "If you could only see yourself the way others see you..."

God's reality really is the one that matters most. You shared some great examples to show that.