The Full Picture

I know you just started reading, but stop for a minute and listen . . . and count. If your kids are home and the house is a little noisy, then I want you to count 15 different sounds you hear. If the baby’s down for a nap, and it’s a little quieter, you can just count 10. Ready? Go.

I bet when you first started listening it was easy – you heard a dog barking, cars passing by, the television or radio in the other room. When you got passed the first five or six it got harder. But then you heard things like a clock ticking, the refrigerator cycling, your computer processing, the dog breathing, a fluorescent light humming. And if you were like me, once you started hearing those noises, you realized they were kind of loud (and some of them annoying). You might have even wondered why you didn’t notice them before.

Our brains are amazing. They constantly take in information, process it, and make decisions. All on its own, your brain decides what is important for you to hear and what is not. It filters out all those extraneous noises to the point that you don’t even hear them any more. But they’re there.

See the scene the way the camera sees it
I co-teach photography classes, and one of the points I make to our participants is that you have to begin to see the scene as the camera does. Just like with our hearing, our brain also filters out what we see. The camera, however, does not. So while you just see your precious daughter playing on the slide in the park, the camera sees your precious daughter AND the overflowing trash can, the dog playing fetch, and the dad chasing after his toddler behind her. All of those additional elements distract from the focal point –  your daughter, and when you get home and look at the pictures, you wonder why they didn’t turn out the way you envisioned.

But there’s more. We can take that little photography lesson back into our daily lives. Our brains filter our experiences and relationships through the grid of past experience and expectation – and it tells us what’s true and important (and what’s not) and how we should react.

The source of truth
The problem lies in the fact that our “truth” is coming from our own brains, and our own heads are not that trustworthy. Take this experiment conducted by Dateline NBC’s Nick Hansen. Time after time, people missed it – the change of person asking for directions, the change of person helping someone at the counter, the change of person during the speed date. Emotions, expectations, and desires often cloud our picture, and we don’t see things for the way they truly are. Our brains reinterpret the truth for us, and we believe it.

We know that the source of truth lies not within our own thinking, but in the mind of Christ. But all too often I turn to Google instead of the Bible, to my own thoughts or the thoughts of others instead of prayer. I miss the fact that I’ve got all this clutter in my background that is taking away from the focal point.

So my struggle is this: how can I cling to what is true and not my own perceptions and expectations. How can I ground myself in his word, so that it permeates my thinking, and like a saturated sponged, allows no room for other things to soak in?

Because the worst part of all comes when I  act upon this “truth” that I believe . . . (to be continued)


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