Perception, revisited


Tomorrow will mark the first birthday for this blog.  I think this an opportune time to take a break from the series of posts discussing differences among Christianities and take another look at the foundational issue of this blog: perception.

Psychologically speaking, what we perceive to be real is, for our psyches, legitimately real.

It’s unfortunate if we believe we can walk through traffic without getting hit, but that is where actual reality can uncomfortably confront our sometimes misguided perceptions.

I’m at a point in my Christian faith where I can completely relate to St. Augustine’s classic prayer: “Our hearts are restless, O God, until they find rest in Thee.”  I’ve been in this place for a while, trying to find this rest.

I’ve been told on good authority that one of my hangups is a belief deep within me that God isn’t actually good.  I’ve written about this a good bit in this blog, addressing it literally and metaphorically in poetry.

And supposedly when I receive more evidence of His goodness in my life is when I will be able to accept this at a deeper level within me.

The thing is, I think that evidence has been there all along (in fact, in many instances, I know with certainty it has been), but my interpretive apparatus doesn’t appear to properly function.  I’m just not all that grateful.  I’m not sure why.

I guess a legitimate question is: should I be grateful?  I actually think I should be, though I’m not.  Some would disagree with that; others would completely agree.

I’ve done the thing where you list stuff you ought to be grateful for, and it is indeed a humbling experience that highlights the many things I am prone to shove out of my conscious mind and take for granted.  But it hasn’t changed my attitude.

What I’m about to suggest makes me feel uncomfortable, because our culture has trained me to feel intellectually dishonest about it.  But in light of what I just mentioned, I’m likewise very suspect about this cultural stigma.

The famous atheist refrain (if I’m not mistaken attributed to Bertrand Russell) when asked what will be said to God upon death if it is found out that He is real is: “Not enough evidence.”

Which begs the same question regarding my gratefulness – what in the world would constitute “enough”?  We can have an idea in our minds of what that would be, but if we are prone to disbelief, it is quite possible – given time – that the line defining “enough” will move once it’s been reached.

So, gratefulness and my perception.  The uncomfortable suggestion is – maybe it’s time I just chose it.

Maybe when something good happens, no matter how small, I should express gratitude to God.  Even though I think it’s stupid.  Even though I don’t want to.

And I think I can allow myself to still voice (whine) my displeasure when bad things happen.  I just need to balance it with the proper attention due the good things.  The things that are good that are so easy to ignore: waking up every day; taking another breath; having another heart beat; seeing my daughter; feeling the sun on my skin.

Maybe that’s the way to get my perception where it ought to be.


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