My wayward perceptions

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I have a history of making bad decisions. I guess that makes me human.

But the one thing I’ve come to realize is that every bad decision is made with good intentions, even if the “good” evolves from a negative place. It still feels good and right in that moment.

When I made the conscious choice to date someone I knew was wrong for me, it was done with the expectation that he would prove me wrong. That expectation came from a place of rebellion and loneliness; a need to have this thing in my life and to mold it into the image of what I wanted – needed – it to be.

I paid for that choice, but it made me stronger. It made me realize that whatever it is I think I need is really just an image. An illusion. Even if the real thing measures up to the expectations I created for it, much of that is still a matter of a perception. A wavy kind of truth; subjective and relative to my emotions and to the emotions of others.

Everything in reality is shifting – a house of cards build on shifting sands. Every step makes ripples.

One decision has the potential to change everything.

This terrifies me. I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with the reasons I write. There are no shifting sands in my fictional worlds. I’m in control. Even when my characters take over their own stories and I don’t know how things will end up, I’m still the one pressing the keys. I can still fix things. And I know there will be a happy ending.

In my stories the illusion is the reality.

Plato explained this concept of perception vs. reality in the “Allegory of the Cave.” What we perceive in our minds is our truth until something

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

comes along to alter that reality. In this allegory the people of the city are chained in a cave, facing the back wall. All they can see are shadows moving about on the wall. They have no idea that these shadows are merely a byproduct of actual three-dimensional forms moving in front of light. The shadows – the illusions – are their reality.

It takes a strong mind to break free of the chains, to turn around and experience truth. Most people choose to stay in their chains. Not because they are unenlightened or uninterested in seeking truth, but because the truth they seek is trapped within the confines of their perceived reality.

Looking beyond that reality changes everything.

Imagine for a moment that you break free of the chains. Wouldn’t it be absolutely terrifying to realize that everything you thought you knew was merely a cast-off from a much fuller and richer truth? The darkness of the shadows is created from light. And the source of everything you see and perceive actually has the power to cast out this illusion, revealing the ultimate Truth.

And the shadows will never look the same to you again.

Many people don’t want their perceptions of the shadows to change. They want to stay in these confines, where they feel as though they have some control. Surrounded by everything they understand.

Following God makes me realize how little I truly understand myself and reality. I seek the light, and I’m still surrounded by shadows.

It makes me feel better about making decisions. I’m still not that great at it, but at least I know that if I fall there is something more, something way bigger than all of this.

I still don’t like taking risks. I still get terrified when I dare to hope. And I still sometimes find myself chained inside that cave, the sun burning at my back. I still sometimes hesitate when I know I must turn toward this light, this ultimate Truth.

There are moments when the key to the chains are in my hands, and I know I must decide whether I’ll stay chained or face the real reality. I wish

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Photo courtesy of

I could say I always make the right choice. I don’t. Sometimes my perceptions, emotions and illusions get in the way and I don’t know whether I’ll find myself enlightened and blessed or heartbroken and crippled, deceived into turning toward a different kind of light. The kind of light that looks like the real thing, but its only purpose is to cast shadows.

But I rest in knowing that the source of the true light sees everything through to the end. So as I’m bumbling around over these shifting sands, trying to stack my house of cards, I trust in the One who can walk on water and calm the storms. I trust in knowing that as long as I keep my eyes on Him – the One who can never be fooled by the shadows – I will never be at the mercy of this reality.


4 thoughts on “My wayward perceptions

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about uncertainty. I keep remembering that Jesus said that he didn’t have a place to rest his head. He lived a life of day-to-day uncertainty. Certainly, his death brought ultimate certainty for those who choose to follow him. But that certainty rests in eternity; your daily experience and mine remain fraught with uncertainty. Sometimes we bind ourselves with chains because they give some false or fleeting feeling of certainty, even if it’s one we recognize that ultimately harms us or cuts us off from God.

    • Jim, your comments are always so insightful and beautifully written. Thank you 🙂 That sums it up perfectly. I’m at a point in my life where I’m facing some difficult decisions, many of them having to do with the direction of my ministry and steps for advancing my writing career. I’m standing at a few forks in the road…definitely a ton of uncertainty, but all I can do is take these steps and trust that God will guide me as I go.

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