Power Point #1: Reality

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” – Chinese Proverb

In this blog that I (very) occasionally post to, I’m starting a new series called Power Points with the goal of posting thoughts on human nature – how humans are wired because of how God made us – that when attended to and lived out, cause life to work better. My secondary goal is to post more frequently, for which having a theme will help.

This may be particularly relevant to those who have attended the 4-day Christian experiential training a lead called The Encounter (www.encountertraining.com) as it will provide some context and fill in some of the blanks that are inevitable in an experiential training.

In John 8:32 Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  The word truth is the Greek word ‘alethia’ – ‘the reality underlying appearances’.  How is it that grasping reality is freeing?

First, we must take a detour into a topic in philosophy called ontology, or the nature of being.  One of the aspects of being human, is that we each have a totally subjective inner world that filters what aspects of external, objective reality ‘get through’ to us (the ‘us’ here being the subjective self). One easy image to capture this situation is to think about a map.  A map is different than the territory that you are moving through.  Potentially maps can have mistakes – both omissions, and less frequently additions – but without a doubt, the options we have for getting to our destination will be chosen from those we find on our map.  To the degree our map of reality is deficient or inexact, the range of options open to us will be similarly limited.

When we improve our map – when it more closely matches reality, we will have greater power to navigate life effectively.  The core idea is that distinction is the source of power; the more distinct we are about how reality is, our power will be much greater.  Distinction comes in both observation – watching how reality is – and in articulation, the speaking of what is so.  The distinctness of articulation can be most easily seen in giving and receiving feedback.  The Chinese proverb I quote above speaks to this reality.


An important aspect to know about how are emotions work is that they will change; sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  One consequence of this is that your emotions don’t serve well as a compass – when we use our emotions as a compass we are jerked around rather dramatically.

Another aspect of our internal life is that we are geared to notice differences.  After a change, the sense of ‘difference’ gradually fades into the background – whether we are talking about changing your clothes or a radical change in perspective. Over a relatively short period of time the sense of difference disappears.

Years ago when I went to an early version of the experiential training that I now facilitate, I cried several decades worth of tears and felt much lighter and free. For several weeks everything felt new – fresh, close, alive. Then one morning I woke up and didn’t feel as different.  Because I had been living with my emotions as my compass, I began to doubt that much had changed, because it seemed I felt the same.  In reality, I was still different – in how I related to others, in what stood out for me in conversation with others – but because I no longer felt different, because I had acclimatized to my new way of feeling and relating to the world around me – I believed that nothing had changed.

When I woke up to what was really going on – that it no longer felt so different because I had acclimatized to the change – my sense of frustration and futility lifted.

March 9, 2015

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