How Perception Colors Life

The Dress

Have you ever thought about the fact that heat is cooler than air conditioning? Sounds silly, but I’m just referring to the fact that in the summer, our bodies are generally comfortable when the thermostat is set near 75 degrees. In the winter, we are comfortable with the heat set at about 68 degrees. The heat is cooler than the air conditioning. We would be burning hot if we jacked the heater up to 75 in the winter. (*Southern Californians should disregard this example – I can explain to you what heating and air conditioning are at another time.) My point is – our perception of a comfortable temperature varies greatly according to our current circumstances – the seasons.

Merriam-Webster defines perception as “the way you think about or understand someone or something” and “the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses.” Our perceptions are obviously variable.

And how about the darn color of the dress debate that has rocked the Internet this past week? Once again, perceptions, based on senses, vary between the ‘white and gold’ and ‘blue and black’ camps.

I have a couple of thoughts regarding perceptions:

First, I make too many judgments based on my personal experiences and senses alone. We must realize the limits of our perceptions instead of making broad, general assumptions about other people’s lives and decisions. You might just be seeing white and gold when the other person’s dress is really blue and black. So be careful about what color shoes you suggest she should wear.

Second, my limited perspective on life (based on my perceptions) is flawed, compared to the great omniscience of our perfect God. What I think is a trial or less than ideal situation is often a blessing. I am in no way speaking into the specific trials of your life (especially considering my last paragraph!) But, the reality of my limited perspective makes me aware of my need for immense TRUST in God.

I stumbled upon an article, Faith and Human Perception, by Thomas Rotkiewicz. I love the way he pulls together the concepts of perception, life’s trials, and faith:

“My mind processes information within limited frames of reference. My interpretation or perception of anything will not be the same as yours because your awareness may be based on a number of different factors… When we face various trials, how can we distinguish between what we believe to be happening – based on our limited perception – and what is really happening from God’s perspective? How can we put our trust in experiences, feelings or human wisdom as reliable indicators of the true nature of what is real or what isn’t.
…God tells us to trust Him, and not to rely on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5,6). Why? Because He alone knows what He is doing and why. I certainly don’t have an accurate or perfect knowledge of all things – or even any single thing. And this is where faith should come into play, reaching beyond our own limitations and placing our trust in the One who has no limitations.”

Even Napolean Bonaparte wisely stated that “The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.” And the ‘father of modern philosophy,’ René Descartes warned us to do not wholly trust our limited senses which deceive us from time to time.

It all comes down to this: I see white and gold, even though the dress is blue and black. It does me good to take a step back and ask myself how much I let my personal perceptions drive my judgments and decisions – about others and for myself.

The phrase, ‘hindsight is 20/20’ makes so much sense that I’m surprised it isn’t scripture. How many times have I faced a challenging situation where God has eventually blessed me out of my mind? How many times have I been so sure about what is right, only to find out that I wasn’t?

Maybe at some point, I’ll really begin to believe that it’s best to not trust in my own understanding alone. God’s eyesight and His perspective are perfect. I must put all of my TRUST in this great promise:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” -Psalm 32:8

5 thoughts on “How Perception Colors Life

  1. And attitude is so much of how we receive everything in our lives – the good and the bad. And you are the best about have a great attitude and trusting that God is in control. Love how you roll with all the change and challenges in your life. Love you lots, Sally

  2. Such wise thoughts, Lauren! I think perception is truly that imperfect thing, not to be fully trusted (think about the “witnesses” to the police shootings lately..!!) – but discernment!! I’m thinking she walks hand in hand with wisdom, “and that not of ourselves; it is a gift of God…” You know where to go first – to Him! Thanks so much for sharing!
    (I see gold and light blue – whatever! It’s really a cute dress……my opinion…) Love you….

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