Believing Is Seeing

On the one hand, I have always appreciated the maxim, “Seeing is believing.” It is all very well and good to read about the Grand Canyon, to watch IMAX films of the Grand Canyon, but to actually understand the reality of the Grand Canyon, one must behold the thing itself. Reality is too vast to be communicated in something so narrow as words or images. Then why are words and images so important to us? Why do we live in stories all the time—in movies, books, newspapers, online, with friends, at the dinner table? Because, in fact, seeing is not really believing. In fact, it is just the opposite. In other words, we do not believe what we see; we see what we believe.

My wife and I recently got into—I’ll call it a discussion. It was a long discussion that neither of us wanted to have but both knew we must. As this discussion wore on, I began to view my wife as an adversary. She didn’t care about me; she only cared about being right. That was what I began to believe. And as I came to believe this, it was as if she mutated. Like a wax figure, her face went from beautiful to ugly, and the edge in her voice became like the blade of a knife wielded against me.

Until I believed something different. Until I thought, “What if she actually loves you and doesn’t want to blame everything on you? What if she’s just upset because she doesn’t understand what you’re discussing anymore than you do? What if that’s why her voice has an edge? And what if you love her? Now what do you see?” What I saw was my wife, whom I still loved, who was as upset and confused as I.

We see what we believe and we take actions based upon what we see. If you believe the world is against you, you will see enemies in every shadow. If you believe men love you, you will see men’s interest beneath their every smile, within every polite greeting. Which is why stories matter so much to us. We tell stories not to describe reality to one another but to offer a lens, a belief, through which others may see a reality that pleases them most.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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