it’s all a matter of perception

It’s me again — the Word Nerd! This Guest Writer is back again. This time my word ponder is the mysterious, yet often used-without-our-thinking-about-it-too-much word. Perception. Have you ever stopped to contemplate or reflect on the word “perception?” It can pack a punch and blindside you when you least expect it. Come; let me show you what I mean…

The word “perception” is a noun. It is derived from the Latin root word: “Percipere,” which is a verb meaning “to seize, understand.” In Late Middle English, there are two words that come together. The Latin word, Perceptio, and the English word, Perceive. Thus, we form the word that we know as “perception.”

Perception, as defined by the dictionary is: 

  1. The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
  2. The state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses.
  3. A mental impression.

(Or my personal favorite…)

  1. Intuitive understanding and insight.

Perception relies heavily on the awareness being brought to us through our senses.  This makes me think about what my Momma and whole host of other Old Timers would say to me when I was younger: “Just trust your gut!” To me, life always seemed a bit TOO risky to just be trusting my body parts to direct and lead me. What if that “ILL” feeling that I had in the pit of my stomach wasn’t my anxiety but just the bean burrito I ate for lunch coming back to haunt me? Or, what if my “perception” or the mental impression I had about someone was completely wrong? Maybe they actually aren’t the lazy, arrogant snob that I had them chocked up to be. Do you see the ongoing quandary that could constantly be a battle for the attention inside my brain box?

This tricky word perception — or more so, the phrase, “it’s all a matter of perception” — has me thinking and wondering. How many times do we make decisions based on how we perceive things to be? How many times do I make decisions based on “my” perceptions? Do we sell ourselves, and others, short because we only pay attention to what we “know” to be true? What if what we thought we knew to be true was only one part of the puzzle to the HUGE picture we call the human race?

All this wondering and pondering taken a few steps farther has brought me to these questions. Are Democrats and Republicans alike in danger of missing the truth about each other because of the perceptions we have about each other? Are all Republicans gun-toting, white supremacists? Do all Democrats really want to do away with our 2nd Amendment Rights? 


What about the Southern Baptist youth group kids who had an encounter with the Living God? Was their encounter with God devoid of really having happened because there were things happening that the Southern Baptist does not practice? Does one denomination have the upper hand on hearing from God over another? 


What about the school bud driver who feels as though he as quite literally thrown under the bus because he called out an issue with as student and wasn’t heard and then when the unthinkable happened — that bus driver became the fall guy all for “the matters of perception”? How does saving face play into this idea of perception? Or does it? 

Over the last several months, as this word nerd has pondered this loaded word perception, my mind has continually been brought to the words-from a soul far wiser than I could ever hope to be-scripted many years ago…

“When I was a child; I spoke as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now, I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also am fully known,” wrote one of the Church’s early leaders, Paul, some 2000 years ago.

Paul’s words have propelled my pondering, and I have suddenly been left with a whole new set of questions to mull over.  What if this whole idea of perception is some how connected to looking in that dimly lit mirror Paul speaks of? What if we only know in part and the whole will not be “fully” known to us on this side of heaven? Maybe the depth to which we can fully understand the power of perception will only be ours when we fully know and understand who we really are and all we were created to be? 

And that, My Friends, is what I would call intuitive understanding and insight.

In The Fray,

LJS-Your Resident Word Nerd