Skewed Perceptions: Or Who Truly Knows Us?

 delusional

Sometimes I think that my jangled hopes, dreams, and desires are so hopelessly confused that no one could truly know me… except God. Half the time I’m not sure what I want, or even my reasons for wanting it. I am consistent only in certain reactions, in certain flaws, and in certain beliefs, but in all else I am unpredictable, my tastes not easily defined, and my motives ranging from pure to selfish. If it’s hard for me to read myself, imagine how much harder it can be for other people who don’t live in my head!

On occasion, people come along who presume to know me. Most of them are proven wrong at some point, either fairly early on in our friendship or much later. I do not always fulfill their expectations. My motives are not always what they think. My tastes are not what they anticipate. My flaws are not what they think they are. My opinions can surprise them even after many years of friendship. I am far more complex than they think and not that great at saying what I really mean.

People misread others all the time. Even fictional characters who should know one another better do it. Mr. Bates has no idea who Anna is on Downton Abbey. He loves her, and he’s married to her, but he’s never right in guessing her motivations and he causes a great deal of upset in the meantime. He is, sadly, delusional about Anna. He doesn’t live in reality. He is torn asunder by his own subjective interpretation of her.

Humans do this. They “presume” to know someone and don’t. They know the alter-ego for this person built up in their heads, but it is not reality; it is so far from reality that it is nothing like the other person. And it is only when these views are voiced and challenged by others who really do know the other person intimately that their disconnect from reality becomes obvious.

When I think about it, that, really, is the Enemy’s goal – to push us out of reality into a false reality, where our perceptions are skewed not only about one another (and ourselves) but also about God. And being human, we’re only too happy to go along with it. All of us are slightly out of tune with reality. We perceive reality through our own subjective opinions. What we project onto the motives of others, we are inclined to believe is the truth – but it is tainted by our perspective. Our bias. None of us is truly objective. Most things are not what they seem, and most people are not either. We are much more complex than we like to think.

My first instinct is to take what I know about someone and start to form a general impression. But how much of that impression is the truth about them and how much of it is based on misinformation and “bad days”? How much of it is my own conclusions and opinions coloring the narrative? If I cannot be trusted to look at others without bias, how can I perceive God truthfully? How much of what I attribute to Him (or don’t) is my projection onto Him? How well do I really know Him? I know Him well enough to realize that those who project their agendas onto Him do not have a clear view of God. I know Him well enough to object when something He is accused of does not fit his character. I know Him well enough to form logical assumptions to fill in the gaps. But how much am I projecting onto Him? How much am I reading into the Bible that isn’t there? How delusional am I?

Happily, even if I do not know my own motivations, He does. And as badly as others might blunder in presuming to know me and interpreting me wrongly, God is never wrong about me. He knows me better than anyone else.

4 Replies to “Skewed Perceptions: Or Who Truly Knows Us?”

  1. I really like this. And we can hope to know someone better after knowing them for years than we could after just a few months. Then again, stressful situations tend to show off who we really are.

    Not related, but I thought of you when I read this and thought you might enjoy it. I don’t know how accurate it really is!

    http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/01/here-is-what-happens-when-each-myers-briggs-personality-type-makes-a-new-years-resolution/

    1. I think we can only truly know someone through repeated exposure to them, in both good and negative situations.

      Ah, yes! That is delightful and … though stereotypical, quite true. Thanks for sharing it with me. 🙂

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