Things as They Really Are

Perhaps no greater proof exists of the adage, “Your perception is your reality,” than the fact that the colors you see depend on the photoreceptors in your eyes (see “How your perception creates your reality” by Dr. David Hamilton). Most people’s photoreceptors behave the same, but some people’s don’t (hence the variety of colorblindness), and animals’ differ from humans’. But for each individual, the colors we see are the colors things are.

Your perception is your reality, and your reality drives your choices and actions. The problems arise when perception becomes so far removed from reality, becomes so distorted, that the resulting choices become damaging.

The Parable of the Novelty Glasses depicts some youth whose eyes ended up being permanently altered because they wore said glasses for an extended period. Because their vision was warped, they made decisions that at first were foolish all the way up to eventually dangerous. They accepted the way they saw things as real even though it was clear to others that it was not.

In the Book of Mormon, the new high priest and prophet Helaman organized the church once more because things had fallen apart somewhat during an extensive war where Helaman was pressed into service. However, some who thought they should have been given higher positions of authority in the church rebelled. The leader of these apostates was called Amalickiah. This fellow also may have been a minor judge in the government and believed, like other judges, that he should wield greater power and influence (Alma 45:21–46:6). Amalickiah’s perception of himself was that he deserved more authority than he had, so that became his reality. And so he pursued power and sought to destroy his main obstacles—both the Nephites’ government and the church—ultimately at the expense of thousands of lives.

One of the fundamental principles of the gospel is repentance. Jesus Himself preached it (Matthew 4:17). But the enemy to repentance can be found on both ends of a spectrum of perception: the view that I can do no wrong (Alma 18:5) and the view that I can do no right. Both are spiritually harmful. If I think everything I do is right, I will never see a need to change and ask God for forgiveness. If I think I always get it wrong and will never get it right, I’ve probably accepted the falsehood that I’m beyond saving. Either way, I never align myself with Heavenly Father’s will.

Just a few months ago, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Twelve said that if Jesus were to personally appear, “I don’t think He would make excuses for your mistakes. He wouldn’t minimize them. No, He would ask you to repent—to leave your sins behind, to change, so He can forgive you. He would remind you that 2,000 years ago He took those sins upon Himself so that you could repent. That is part of the plan of happiness gifted to us from our loving Heavenly Father” (“Jesus Christ Is the Strength of Youth”).

Elder Uchtdorf also gave the cure for faulty sight and the guide for making choices: “There’s a lot of confusion in the world about what is right and wrong. . . . But when you earnestly seek the truth—eternal, unchanging truth—your choices become much clearer. Yes, you still have temptation and trials. Bad things still happen. Puzzling things. Tragic things. But you can manage when you know who you are, why you are here, and when you trust God. . . . When you have important choices to make, Jesus Christ and His restored gospel are the best choice. When you have questions, Jesus Christ and His restored gospel are the best answer. When you feel weak, Jesus Christ is your strength.”

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed that “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). The surest way to come to this knowledge is to receive it from Him whose perception is actual reality, to come to see things the way He does. In this way, we develop a healthy sense of our own sins and, at the same time, of our successes and progress in walking uprightly before Him. We will clearly see the way back to Him.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

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