Reality vs. Perception

“An unrealistic perception can completely distort reality.”

In the last few years, I have undergone a significant transformation and I have analyzed my experiences over and over again to understand what exactly has happened. What has changed and why? One of the most intriguing insights I have come to understand is how important perception is.

Perception is our own unique individual way of looking at the world. Because each one of us views life according to our own temperment and life experiences, no one can have the exact same perspective as anyone else. So given our past circumstances and how we have learned to interpret them, we all see life situations from our own perspective. In both art and philosophy, perspective entails a way of looking at things in relation to each other.

Reality is what it is and generally entails facts: the Earth is tilted, winds blow, water is made of Hydrogen and Oxygen, people die, cars crash, flowers grow, etc…

Our reality becomes shaped by our perception. Because things happen, people hurt us, situations affect us, we will view these situations through our perceptive filters which will begin to create either a stable or unstable reality for us. When we live in an unstable reality, there is a constant struggle. I remember that I could never pinpoint exactly what the struggle was or even who the enemy was. I just knew I was always fighting. For what? I couldn’t tell you… But life was a battle and I was going to win. Win what? I still don’t know…. So every situation I encountered became a war zone. Me against “them” or “it.” There was a threat to my reality, to my safety, and I was going to fight to defend what was mine. Unfortunately, I never realized that what I THOUGHT was reality was just my perception. Reality and my perception rarely lined up. Some people believe in the “devil” or “Satan” but whatever label you wanna throw on him, he messes up our reality in a way that completely distorts the truth. There may be one tiny little morsel of truth encapsulated by an ocean of lies, so when a situation presented itself, my unstable mind used the situation as a catalyst to create an entire false reality. For example, let’s say my husband didn’t say “goodbye” in a nice way before hanging up the phone with me. My unstable reality would perceive that he is mad at me or I did something to anger him. But because I am so insecure and cannot handle any sort of rejection at all, my defenses would go up and I would either become angry and lash out at him in a way of protecting my hurt feelings or would completely withdraw feeling that he doesn’t love me or like me. The reality is, he was short toned. The reason may have been that he was having a bad day or was tired and just didn’t feel like talking. But my mind perceived the situation unrealistically. This is only one silly example, but there are many more situations in life that we react with these exact same characteristics. Reality and our perceptions just don’t line up! And no wonder we suffer from depression and anxiety. Our own perceptions are probably worse than reality. We actually create this horrific world that we live in because we are trapped within our own minds!  It is only when our perspective lines up with reality and we can accept things for what they are, that we can truly experience emotional and psychological freedom.

Which brings me to understanding who Jesus is….

Anyone who knows me knows I am rediculously analytical. I don’t look at ANYTHING for face value and am always looking to understand what lies beneath the surface. This is probably why my search for God and understanding life has lead me to confusion in the past. Growing up in an Agnostic home, I always believed in God, but I just didn’t know who or what he was. I hated Christians because they were hypocrites. Hated Catholics because you’re not allowed to do anything. I loved Astrology because so much of it made sense! Buddism really caught my attention because you could be a “free spirit” and just live in “peace.” I generally gravitated to any religion or belief system that allowed me to have my freedom, wasn’t going to tell me what to do, yet allowed me to be loved for who I am. The funny thing is, no such religion exists! Not even within Christianity… I still find that I am REQUIRED to believe a particular set of beliefs if I am going to “interpret the bible the ‘right’ way.” Seriously. I have come to the conclusion that being a “Christian” has such a negative connotation in this country that I almost don’t want to be associated with the label of a crazy, Right Wing nut, hell bent against gays, bombing abortion clinics and picketing funerals chanting “believe in Jesus or your going to hell!” I’m sorry, but this to me is not what Jesus stood for. Jesus never came to start another “religion,” he came to FREE us FROM religion! And yes, dare I say it, many sects of “Christianity” are sadly still religious institutions with no heart and no depth. Jesus is REAL. He gets to the heart of humanity without sugar coating a damn thing.

For years, I wondered why God wouldn’t just wave his magic wand and make the world a peaceful place to live again? Why must there be so much violence, hate and anger in the world? Surely, God could restore this broken world that we live in. But the truth of the matter is… even if he decided tomorrow that he was going to create heaven on Earth, given our selfish human nature, we would destroy it all over again anyway. We did it the first time, and nothing, nothing, has changed since then. God has tried for generations upon generations to restore peace between us (meaning man and God). But we kept pushing him away. He found a guy named Noah who had faith in him, trusted him and honored him. God spared his life. The he found Abraham. Through faith, God created a chosen people to be his because he loves us. But again we pushed him away, we have more faith in man and ourselves than God. So he sends us someone who’s DNA is part human, part God. Someone who has experienced both heaven AND earth. Someone who KNOWS what it’s like to be human and therefore can know what we need in order to be right with God. Because the truth is, we are way to full of pride. And pride kills relationships. Nothing, nothing will destroy a relationship faster than pride. Pride thinks that I know it all, I have all the answers, I can do it myself and I do not value, honor or respect YOU. It’s all about me, me, me. And because Jesus knows this, he knows how to help us. But how can anyone help someone they don’t know? How can I help you if I don’t know you? How can you help ME when I hate YOU or don’t want anything to do with you? God doesn’t force us to do anything, that would violate free will. But faith can and will accomplish everything. And this is why Jesus was given to you and me. To create a new heaven and a new earth. We will all die. Not one of us is good enough to be in God’s presence because we have way too much pride. We are too selfish. God is the epitome of selfLESSness. We could never measure up now matter how many “good” deeds we did in life. But Jesus is the way to know God because he understands our humanity at the core level. HE is the intercessor between heaven and earth, man and God. He changes us from the inside out so that when we are given this “new heaven and new earth,” we won’t destroy it! See if world peace happened tomorrow, it would only last but a heartbeat because as humans we are always looking for a quick fix. We are looking to put a bandaid over a bullet hole. What needs to change is us. From the inside out. We need to do the hard work NOW so that when our lives have ended we can hold Jesus’ hand for eternity.

Bringing this all back to perception….

Understanding truth and reality for what it is will change the entire course of our lives. We need to understand that just because we feel like the world is out to get us, doesn’t mean it is. Or if we are blinded by ignorance thinking the world is full of beautiful, magnificent, wonderful people who want nothing more but your happiness is equally as untrue. We need to objectively and intentionally think about what we are thinking about and weigh our “feelings” against the “facts.” We need to step outside our little boxes and realize that not everything is about us. Truth exists and when you find it, it is irrefutable because it is what it is. Whether or not you believe what I believe is irrelevant. We each have to discover for ourselves what truth is. And that is where we will find common ground. It is not until we have been changed from the inside out and continue to seek truth that reality and our perception willl begin to line up. Then when it does, you will honestly come to the realization of Jesus’ famous words: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you FREE.” (John 8:32)

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