Perception Ain’t All That…

In all relationships, not just marriage, most disagreements can be chalked up to a simple difference of perspective. The best example I can use to illustrate this is the fable about the five blind men and the elephant.

Each man holds a different part of the elephant, and bases his opinion of what an elephant is by what he feels. One holds an ear, and thinks an elephant is like a palm leaf, broad and flat. Another holds a leg and thinks an elephant is like a tree trunk, the next man holds a tusk and thinks an elephant is sharp and pointy, another holds it’s trunk and thinks an elephant is like a snake, the last feels the side of the beast and thinks an elephant is like a wall. From their limited perspective, they are all correct, but none of them grasps the full explanation of what an elephant really is. So despite being correct in their observations, they all fail to grasp the big picture.

We all do this in our relationships. Whether it is a spouse or a friend or even a complete stranger, we all can easily mistake another’s actions, or lack of actions, for something that was never meant to be anything dark. For example, the other night we were eating out and the seating selection was limited. Cristy and the twins and I were at one table, Meghan and Nick were sitting at a table for two, and Connor was sitting by himself at another small table. Cristy, having had a very busy week and not much time with the kids, kept inviting Connor to sit with us, and he kept refusing. I took his refusal to as disrespect to his mother, and made him move. Hard feelings and attitude ensued. Later, I came to realize that he truly just wanted to sit by himself and eat his meal, and I felt horrible about my reaction. But, rather than let it simmer, I explained to him what my perception of his actions had been, and why I had reacted the way I had (I take disrespect to my wife rather seriously, no matter who the perpetrator might be). I apologized and we were able to have a good evening.

Anytime we feel wronged, we need to remember to give the benefit of the doubt to the one we feel wronged us. Find out where the misunderstandings came in. It might turn out that our perceptions of the event or events was spot on. More often than not, however, we are probably going to find out that it is a lack of seeing the issue from the other person’s perspective. Of course, once this happens, the enemy gets involved and creates a perfect storm of opportunities for these misunderstanding to grow and replicate, until the relationship is broken to the point where only God can heal it. Don’t fall into the enemy’s plans; RESIST the temptation to lash out in righteous wrath until you know for sure that it is truly righteous.

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