Joey Norton – Central Leadership Institute Intern
Have you ever been looking at a picture and someone came along and turned it sideways or upside down and everything about that picture changed? Or thought you made a correct assessment about a person or judgement and then learn what happened behind the scenes and realized you where completely wrong in your assessment?
Recently I just returned from a Global Connection Trip to Egypt and as I am still processing through everything I saw, I realized how my perspectives changed. You see, beforehand as I was telling people, especially family, about the trip people were nervous and worried for me because on the news we see protests and violence happening over there what seems to be all the time and everywhere. Well I quickly learned I had a false or incorrect perspective on the situation. Never once while I was over there did I feel unsafe. The people are very friendly and I had much to learn about the process of the protests that the news outlets do not share. Here is what I realized: your perception is not always reality.
While I was over in Egypt, communicating with the locals about life in Egypt and life in America, I was shocked on their perspective of us and our government. They also can fall into the similar thinking of having a wrong perception of us as we do of them based on what we see in the media. We had great conversations explaining and giving them a new perspective on Americans and also our government leaders and their decisions they have made. Where by the end of the dialogue we were talking about how much we had in common.
You see as we gain more context of a situation we often realize how wrong our perception was originally, just as my view on Egypt was changed when I received more knowledge and actually experienced the culture.
I am reminded of two stories in the Bible where perceptions were changed. The first is in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus is dining at a Pharisee’s house and a woman with a sinful past came and anointed Jesus feet with perfume. The people at the table were judging this woman on what she had done and Jesus told a parable about two men who had their debt forgiven. Jesus then changed their perspective by showing what she had done and what they had not done. The other story is found in 2 Samuel 12. It is the story of where Nathan confronts King David on his affair with Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan tells David a fictional story about a rich man who stills a poor mans only sheep and slaughters it to feed his guests. David reacts angrily and declares a judgement on this fictional man. Nathan then changes David’s perspective and declares to him that is the man who stole the sheep.
I know God does this often in our lives, especially while reading the Bible, where something we have read multiple times suddenly means something completely different to us because of either a situation we are in or a teacher reveals a new perspective on the passage. I love when this happens, when a familiar and well known passage takes on a deeper or new meaning.
I was told just yesterday by a fellow staff member that as we go through life that we need to keep this in the back of our mind: your perception is not always reality and you may be perceiving someone, thing or a situation incorrectly. How is your perception?