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.