As someone who was watching from the sides to witness the whole ordeal unveiling, it was clearer to me than to the three involved as to what was happening.
The younger than 3-year-old little boy's point of view (probably...): Yay, sand creations to storm on! FUN!
John's point of view: Oh great, even after multiple cautioning, the little boy still stormed on my walls and broke it. Now I need to rebuild my creation. Of course, because Michael doesn't have a castle, he is destroying mine, so I don't have one too.
Michael's point of view: John's teasing me because the little boy stormed on my wall and broke my creation so I should storm on John's sandcastle and destroy his creation too.
While all three were occupied with what they thought was happening which resulted in their actions, as someone who could see the whole picture and consider their point of entry to this situation, I could see the mismatch in their perception of what was happening in comparison to what the others were actually thinking.
The little toddler just wanted to storm on the creations like it was a game. He most likely saw the boys who were busy creating their sand art as builders who were setting up buildings for him, Godzilla, to storm on.
It was highly probable that it was unbeknown to him how the boys were building for themselves and not for him to storm on. This is the first misperception, common to this age, egocentrism, where everything revolves around me, myself and I.
For my 10-year-old boy, John, who was putting a lot of effort into his structure with the walls and castle as well as a pathway to another tower, his city in the making required lots of architectural skills and needed to be protected from the others.
Hence, the many cautions to stop and be careful were repeated to the little ones lingering around while he was sculpturing. He expected that everyone would be able to have self-control and move away from his sand creations, even little toddlers.
Here's the second misperception - that people, including toddlers, have the same expectations as me and will live up to my expectations. Unfortunately, most toddlers do not have that awareness that people's creations are to be admired… not to storm on.
On the other hand, for my 7-year-old son, Michael, who is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother, the competition started the moment both boys started creating with the sand. Although he only had the walls without a sandcastle in the middle, his walls were much bigger, and he felt he was leading with the size of his walls.
Michael's misperception was that his brother was jealous of him, that out of envy, his brother would delight in the destruction of his creation to win the competition.
Misperceptions such as the above can easily snowball into misunderstandings.
When both John and Michael's walls were stormed on, John sighed, "Oh great, he broke the walls. Now we'll just have to build it again." Unaware that Michael's walls were also ruined, John was solely disappointed that his own walls came crumbling down.
Michael, however, already had the misperception that John was jealous of his creation and immediately interpreted this lament as his older brother rejoicing that his creation was ruined and that John now has the better creation. Michael's response to this misunderstanding was a huge leap into his brother's sandcastle.
The never-ending cycle
Often, we too can get caught in this cycle of misperception and misunderstanding. A never-ending cycle that is hard to break.
If we have a perception of someone or something which might not be entirely true, it is easy to misunderstand their words or actions. How we perceive a person's words or actions is usually based on how we think they are.
Likewise, our misunderstanding of their words and actions also leads to our misperception of them.
Breaking the cycle
The easiest way to break this cycle of misperception and misunderstanding is to ask and talk it out.
When Michael and John began to ask each other what they were thinking, they had a chance to explain themselves and clarify what had happened. When we begin to talk things out with others, we begin to understand better.
Our perception and understanding of God
Similarly, with God, we too can have some misperceptions and half-truths, of who He is. Lots of these misperceptions are often not totally wrong and have some truths in them, which makes it even harder to realise they are misperceptions and not accurate perceptions of God.
If we think that God is a God who is stern because He does not tolerate evil, then we see Him through that lens of a stern God. When bad things happen, we assume that He is angry with us for our wrongdoings, and He is punishing us for it.
However, if we perceive God as a Holy God who loves us, we then see the same bad circumstances, as God refining us like gold to be more like him through trials. That since He is holy, He cannot tolerate wrongdoings but because of His love for us, He offers forgiveness for whatever wrong we have done and provides a way for us to be holy through Jesus.
When our perception changes, our understanding changes too, and vice versa. Let's fervently seek the truth so we have a clearer perception and understanding both of God and of this life.
1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 21 encourages us to put everything to the test in order to check what is good. May we learn how to hold on to the good perceptions that we have tested and steer away from the evil ones that cause misunderstandings.
As the song 'Spirit and Truth' featuring Sean Feucht by Bethel Music goes,
All we want is to see You
All we long is to know You
Our hearts undone
Renew our hunger again
You're reaching past our agendas
You're piercing through the familiar
You bring us back
Into wonder again.
Esther Koh is a primary school teacher living in Christchurch with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html