Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Based on Perception

As fate would have it, my immune system isn't as strong as I had hoped, and has succumbed to a cold so taxing all I want to do is sleep.

And I want my ears to pop so that I can hear something other than the sound of my own labored breathing. And my own swallowing.

So it only makes sense that I would take it easy today, using the time I have to myself wisely. By sleeping. Unfortunately, I have a mind that doesn't turn off easily, which means that even though I might lay down and close my eyes, I'm still thinking about a) new projects, b) old projects, or c) current projects that are underway but still unfinished. I'm great at starting them. Not so hot to trot on finishing. In an effort to rest, I picked up my book and began reading.

I've learned that in my world one's reputation is based on perception, rarely fact. It was the perception of my fabulous life that made it fabulous, at least in my friend's eyes. The minute a perceived weakness reared its ugly head all bets were off.
{linda francis lee, the devil in the junior league}

A perceived weakness.

I'm willing to bet that none of us have perfect lives, and as a result, the weaknesses aren't perceived, they are real. But we if live with the belief that perception has to be picture-perfect, with no room for flaws or mistakes, then we are setting ourselves up for a lifetime of stress, strain and exhaustion.

It's tempting to want others to think that life is perfect. Maybe it even makes us think that our life actually is perfect, or at least a slice of it is. The slice you let other people see.

I used to think that I had to be perfect, or at least act like it, so that other people would think I was perfect, because I was afraid that if anyone really knew that sometimes I yell at my kids and I lose control and I relate to colors better than I do math, and it takes me awhile to do simple math in my head (I'm all about the counting on fingers and talking the whole problem out while you're working it out, so while I eventually arrive at the same or near the same answer as a certified math person, such as my husband, it takes me a whole lot longer to get there), and sometimes I don't do small talk, and for no rhyme or reason I'll make a snap judgement about someone and not ever really give them a chance, and I also want everybody to like me really bad so sometimes I am a people pleaser but there are times when I'm totally passive-aggressive and I am direct and candid and blunt and come across just a tad bit bitchy--and sometimes I cuss just because even though I was taught otherwise--well, all that makes me really scared and afraid that if people really knew me, I wouldn't have any friends.

And let me tell you. I need friends.

So I would box up all my perceived weaknesses, like the fact that I'm totally attention deficit, and pretend like all--and I mean everything--was 100%, entirely, perfectly put together.

Except that all the pretending on the outside started clashing with all the reality going on in my house. Like when Jon and I would disagree. Or I would forget about the laundry in the washing machine and leave it there for a couple of days. Or I would flake on a school function.

It made me hate the fact that I wasn't perfect, and strive all the more to get there.

I also erected high (and I hoped) impenetrable walls around my heart so that no one could get to know the real me. They would only know the me that I was comfortable presenting.

I don't think I had anyone fooled. Not my husband. Not my sister. And definitely not my Creator, who knows my heart, my thoughts, and the number of hairs on my head.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  
Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
{luke 12:7}

When I decided to allow the love of Christ to fill my soul, rather than the various and assorted other remedies I had been seeking, the insecurity surrounding not being perfect slowly began to fade away. There is an ebb and flow to the process; I wasn't wiped clean overnight, and I still deal with the insecurity of knowing that other people know that I relate to colors better than I do math and that I get grievously offended by the simplest, silliest things and then let it make me mad for five days. And that I am totally passive-aggressive.  In a bad way.

But there is it, written for everybody to read.

Don't be afraid.

Don't be afraid of letting the experiences we've had, the feelings we feel, the good traits we like and the bad ones we don't, come forward in an real, honest, uncomplicated way.

Because it could actually help someone else.

It could, might, maybe, help someone else to know that what you deal with, they deal with, too. Or the feelings they are feeling aren't so singular, and in a real, honest, uncomplicated way, you could form a bond over knowing that life is hard and frustrating and sometimes you just don't know what to do, and you're there to help each other out.

Friends.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship 
is to understand 
and be understood.
{lucius annaeus seneca}


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