accurate in reality or just an illusion. I do believe that our perception is our reality and therefore must best be understood by both our self and another with whom we may be trying to communicate. Listening is a key, but our sieve and filters, however marred create our perception that must be explained and received by the listener or communications fail or are fuzzy, i.e. misperceived. This thought does not include that at least for me, A Scripture with which I struggle, “Everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:17). Listening better and reflecting before speaking is one of my disciplines chosen for 2019 and beyond.
In conversation I want to assume that the motivations of another’s heart are good unless proven otherwise by experience. Each of us has our doubts, fears, frames of reference, history and perception that help define how we receive communication from someone else. I want to pause and reflect before responding. This might require a clarifying question. As well, I don’t want to react. Some people don’t reflect they just punch back without clarifying the truth of their perception, not good. Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:18, “As much as it depends upon you, if it is at all possible, be at peace with everyone.” But we can listen.
Our perception can easily be blurred by family dysfunction or brokenness like PTSD, mental impairment or sin in our lives. This can cause defensiveness like I had this morning with my wife when talking about my perceptions, which will often be different from hers and may be flawed, nonetheless real. I am working on being less reactive or “Hippitty-hoppy” as my children used to call me at times I might have overreacted. Like all flaws it can take a lifetime of sanctification from God to bring my behavior more fully into His will. This still does not mean that others will like it, because no person always responds in God’s will or way, because His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Perceptions can change, but remember they are somewhat burned in and more difficult to modify than opinions that can blow in the wind. It is critical that our perceptions and opinions become in line with Scripture and led by the Holy Spirit for believers. Otherwise they are fleshly in nature.
I enjoyed watching long cancelled TV series Perception with the main character being a Neuro-Psychiatrist with Schizophrenia to add to the craziness. He had perceptive visions that allowed him to be led to solve forensic crimes in amazing, albeit sometimes through hallucinated clues and ways. It was very entertaining as he taught college classes that suggested that our perceptions of realities become more open and therefore more hospitable. Genius, good or evil can dwell in many perceptions. God’s Word can powerfully change them for good if obeyed as well.
I said that I am writing after contemplating wisdom lessons suggested by my wife this morning on the subject of perception. It is an issue I confess in which I need continuing transformation. She was right, however, not necessarily fully understanding my perspective. Congruence is a lifelong process to be pursued for the good of any relationship. And for whoever is reading, contemplate that perhaps your spouse knows you better than others and even you; listen to her/him. Take it in and reflect. But above all else seek God for wisdom and discernment. James 1:5 suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom to ask of God who will generously pour it out to us, unless we doubt or are double-minded on the matter. Sometimes we will find discernment that is heaven-sent and even healing or saving in its essence. So be alert and open with your heart and hands wide open to hear. We need to understand that some people approach conversations with confidence and openness, some with fear and mistrust. It’s where they are on their journey of faith. So listen with all your senses including this 6thwhich is spiritual.
Stephen Covey, a Bishop in the Mormon Church and author of Bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Seek to understand first, then to be understood.” Life is not about me; it is more so living in a complex environment with a myriad of variables. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” In other words we unconsciously develop patterns of behavior and perspective or perception that stay with us through life unless challenged and renewed or transformed through education, other godly peoples feedback, circumstances and most importantly God through prayer, Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Highly effective people grow more perceptive, understanding their biases and predispositions. This is self-awareness strengthened through proactive effort or will, spirit, imagination and learning through free choices made by humans hopefully attaining godly wisdom.