Perceptions are a theme that has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks now. I wasn’t sure why God kept prompting me to write about perceptions until this week’s Bible study.
This week we discussed just 4 verses in the book of Ruth. We covered Ruth 1:19-22. In this short section of scripture we find that Ruth and Naomi have made the trip back to Bethlehem. And when they arrive back in Bethlehem, Naomi has a good old fashioned 2 year old temper tantrum. We struggled discussing this as we’ve all been there. Woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Had a black cloud hanging over our heads all day. Needed to put ourselves in time out for a while. So here we are. Facing our own ugliness in the form of Naomi. Naomi, as you will recall, has had quite the bad string of events. She faced famine in Bethlehem, left her home, family and friends for a foreign land, lost her husband and then within a fairly short time, lost both her sons, and now has traveled back across the desert with the wife of her dead son. I’m sure she was distressed because of all the loss the endured before her trip, stressed even more by the dangerous trip back for 2 women traveling alone in the desert at night and was exhausted from the trip. But her reaction to the welcoming committee in Bethlehem was a little over the top.
Naomi told her friends and family not to even call her Naomi, but instead call her Mara. You see, Naomi meant delightful. Mara means bitter! Then she tells her friends that it’s God’s fault. She claims she went away from Bethlehem full and came back empty. Could it be that Naomi is so wrapped up in her pity party that she’s forgotten she left Bethlehem because of the drought? She left because of her empty stomach but she’s returned with an empty heart. While she may have loved God and trusted Him when she left, she’s definitely lost her love for Him at this point. She feels God has taken everything from her. Naomi can’t understand why she’s lost so much but she’s certain that God has caused it all. She’s bitter and wants to guard her heart from ever feeling again.
So, what does this have to do with perception? Well, to be honest, it was only Naomi’s perception that God was against her. He was actually working out the details to bring about the birth of Christ. He was working out the fact that Naomi would be “Grandma” to Obed, who was Jesse’s dad, who was King David’s dad. Naomi was so focused on herself that she just wallowed in self pity.
Do you ever have wrong perceptions? I will admit to them. I wake up and look out my window and some days allow that to change my perception of what the day will be. It becomes even worse when I judge others based upon my perceptions of them rather than the reality of the situation. I often look at people and wonder why they act/react the way they do. Often, I forget to stop and look at what’s going on in their lives (past, present and future). Perceptions are a tricky thing. I look at situations in one way, while another person may look at them in a totally different way. I see the good hearted workers of agriculture but others may see us as people who are just out to make a buck with no care for the animals or environment. Perception. It’s a tricky thing that we all need to stop and think about from time to time, lest we end up throwing a major pity party when our neighbors stop by to say hello.