Perception vs Intention

November, 13, 2018

As a writer, words are the commodity I trade in. I need to gather words that reflect my voice, but also have the best possible chance of communicating the meaning I am trying to convey. I have my favorite words that I turn to regularly. I’m not sure why, but I like using juxtaposition or superfluous. For some reason I like the way they sound and I can work them into a sentence easily. Yet there are other words I have no idea how to use. Words such as asymptote or tintinnabulation. These would require a dictionary and make my reader feel like I am trying to be the next George Will or Dennis Miller. I stay away from those. Then there are words I refuse to use, simply because they carry connotation and meaning that I would never want to express.

Over time, words change in meaning. To say screwed around my father in law did not imply being put in a difficult or hopeless situation.. The word sucks has certainly morphed over time from how I remember it used in college when yelling the word at a basketball referee.

As we prepare to deal with cancer for a third time, one of the words that has changed meaning and that we no longer use is UNFAIR.

Fairness is difficult to administer because it is often determined by perception, not intention. Parents with small children know this very well. You’ve heard one of them scream,“That’s not fair!.”as your son interprets your action of letting your daughter sit in the front seat on the way home while he has to sit in the back. “I always have to sit in the back. She ALWAYS gets to sit up front. THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

And you may have a thoughtful reason for letting your daughter ride up front, but that doesn’t always matter to the one in the back seat who perceives he is being treated unfairly. This is when you as a parent accept that the child won’t fully understand your motives and intentions.

You love your children unconditionally and your mission as a parent is to make sure they understand this truth. And throughout their young lives, they will challenge you on it. That’s why fairness isn’t your biggest concern.

And this is why Karen and I don’t use that word when describing our circumstances. Our faith is rooted in God’s great love for us, not in how fair we think life is or should be, or why we have to deal with cancer and someone else does not.  We learn to discern His good intentions, and not lean into our small perceptions.

7 Replies to “Perception vs Intention”

  1. Kevin (and Karen) I’m so sorry that this is your present reality. I am glad you shared this so that we can be in prayer for your family. He has shown you victory in the past and I will boldly pray that He will do so again. Please let us know if there is anything we can do from MA – you’re creative – surely you can think of something!
    Anne & David

  2. Beautifully written. It warms my heart to know of such faith. I thank God for friends who show me true faith and God’s grace. Thanks. Love and prayers.

  3. Again, very thought provoking. I however DO think it’s unfair. I also think God understands completely if you want to shout it from the hilltop. After all, Jesus and His death cauterized the term unfair into the psyche of humanity for all time. Run to Him who understands unfairness with all the strength you can muster. He will sustain you. I’m not trying to parse words but rather give you freedom to “go there” if you need to. Cancer sucks! And it’s unfair to pick on the girl three times.

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