Seeing vs. Perceiving

Me: “Make sure your football shoes aren’t muddy from practice before you walk around the kitchen.”

My son: “I checked. They aren’t.”

The shoes were still muddy. My son looked but did not perceive. Not surprising for a 12-year-old boy.

Seeing means to “look at.” Perceiving means “to become aware of, know or identify, to recognize, discern, envision or understand.”

My son may have looked at his shoes, but he failed to become aware of the mud on them. He simply went through the motions of looking to be able to tell me, truthfully, that he did what I asked.

Seeking Understanding

My son should outgrow his tendency to see but not internalize what his eyes observe. At least, he will if he remains teachable.

Unfortunately, many people fail to stay teachable. Many never become teachable in the first place. For whatever reason — an unforgiving spirit, culture, pride, etc. — too many people refuse to gain understanding. They may see evidence but refuse to plunge into truly perceiving what they see.

Busyness provides a great excuse to avoid seeking understanding. We can play victim to it and never have to admit that we are simply trying to do too much. We need help. We need others to teach us. We need to be willing to learn.

I’m not talking about learning how to use Twitter or set up a blog. I’m not even talking about learning how to write or speak better or in any way to become more efficient at our vocations in a way that reduces busyness. I’m talking about dealing with the things that create the atmosphere of the inner self. I’m talking about not letting feelings and circumstances dictate actions. I’m talking about a person’s character.

Jesus got at this issue in Mark 4 where he talks about those who see but don’t perceive meaning and who hear but don’t understand. What happens when a person fails to push through to understanding and true perception? They fail to turn from wrong. They fail to enter the freedom of forgiveness.

The Mud on Your Shoes

Too many people fail to see the mud on their shoes; they fail to see the need for change, for taking action to clean up a small mess by stomping out their shoes in order to prevent the bigger mess of mud tracked into the kitchen and then onto the carpet.

Keeping the kitchen and foyer floor clean was the bane of my existence at times. Maybe that’s why this muddy shoe incident got stuck in my craw. It really reflects on a bigger issue of having to constantly clean up messes or make huge allowances because others fail to clean the mud of their shoes. Some days I get frustrated over the extra work caused by others laziness and failure to perceive a small problem they could easily correct.

Making Allowances

“Make allowances for one another’s faults, and in so doing obey the law of Christ because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

Does this mean I say nothing when the mud on their shoes gets all over the kitchen floor requiring extra sweeping and mopping before it gets on someone else’s feet and gets tracked onto the carpet?

Yeah, sometimes it does. Sometimes, it means they don’t see it yet, it’s a fault maybe I need to overlook until they have the maturity to see the mud on their shoes.

So, when others traipse mud into my life causing extra work for me, I love them anyway knowing there’s maturity yet to come that will allow them to see and handle the mud. Just like when my son had muddy shoes, I purposed to gently ask him to go outside and clean them off instead of lecturing about how much work he’s caused me by walking around the house in muddy shoes.

Until he could perceive the mud and clean it off of his own volition, I would just keep grabbing broom and the mop!