When My Perception Isn’t Your Reality

by | May 2, 2012 | Uncategorized

I’m joining Amber and Seth Haines in the Mothers Letters project. You can write a letter too and join the link-up party here.

Dear Mother, purveyor of lives that radiate the holy mystery in small frames of dust imprinted on kitchen counters, on sticky floors, in unmade beds,

I’m writing to tell you that perception and reality are two separate bridges running tandem in your  mind. That both bridges access truth, but the bridge of your own perception makes the journey to truth long and arduous. Choose reality.

When you watch other mothers stand in line for soccer sign-up and your child doesn’t find joy in kicking a ball around a field, it doesn’t mean that your child is somehow less of a little person because he doesn’t fit in to the perceived ideal of childhood. It probably means God didn’t instill passion in him for a ball the same way he did for those other kids and that’s good. Because God makes children in His own image. Not the image of the neighbor kids.

When your kids aren’t asking for play dates and prefer to be at home with you, it doesn’t mean they are anti-social or rejects. It means that God didn’t create them with the same intrinsic need to extrovert as others.  That wisdom doesn’t only come to the aged, but early too, regarding friendships and good choices about healthy environments. Because He gives wisdom to those who ask and wisdom doesn’t look like following the crowd in order to be accepted. Wisdom lives for an audience of one, not the audience of the school, church, or parent/teacher association.

When you stand in the spotless kitchen of friends with older kids who do chores, have quiet times, and take mission trips without prodding, it doesn’t mean those friends are better at parenting. It means that the lives of our children are stories written by Him, each with separate chapter and verse, their name as the title on the spine. That you, not what you do, are a vital part of their storyline to lead them to Christ and make good choices. It’s why He decided to make you a mother.

Because some day, your son will declare on Facebook, how awesome it was to be at church and when a friend asks him why, he’ll say it’s because he learns about God. And you’ll realize that most of communicating Christ has to do with the silence of living that shouts who He is, not what you do.

When your daughter is old enough, she’ll wake herself up and drive herself to church when everyone else sleeps. You’ll realize that heart transformation isn’t about how spiritual, organized, creative and tidy your mothering skills resound. It’s all about grace and the way she weaves herself into the cells and sinews of life when you weren’t noticing.

Perception is sometimes like the foggy mirror in someone else’s bathroom.  She thinks the reflection of you should look like the one who lives there. Reality is what you see when you wipe the steamy mess of life off the surface. And truth, it’s the smile of God looking back at you in the mirror. His reflected image loving you just the way you are.

The mother He created you to be. Uniquely, wonderful you.

Linking with God Bumps, Imperfect Prose, Walk with Him Wednesday, WLWW, Word Filled Wednesday.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. caallyn

    All I can say is amen and amen.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Still in Canada Celeste? Thinking about you and praying as we pack up.

  2. consolationofmirth

    This moved me to tears. What a relief to relate to the struggle, but rest in those God-breathed words, to encourage you…to encourage me. Thanks.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad Heather, that you can relate – not the tears. I spent too many years feeling inadequate as a mother because of incorrect perceptions. Not that I still don’t have them from time to time, but I am alert to my thoughts and truth in a more vigilant way now. Thanks for reading.

  3. pastordt

    Beautifully done, Shelly. Really, truly. Thank you.

  4. dukeslee


    This is like drinking in fresh air. Thank you. Really. Just, thanks.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m breathing in with you in the writing. I thought it was going to be hard to write and it was actually freeing.

  5. kelliwoodford

    This hits home.
    Especially the one about the friends with their house in order . . . while mine is a colossal mess. Really thankful I stopped here tonight.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I put way too much pressure on myself to measure up instead of being content wiht the way things are. Glad this hit home, really glad.

  6. Michele-Lyn (@lifesurrendered)

    Oh… I love this. It is a call to not compare. We are one body, each with our own unique part, and we compliment each other. I am learning to appreciate the differences in others as gifts. This is beautifully written. I love it…

    Thanks for praying too, for precious Joanna.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Michele, I am still learning to embrace this myself, to be okay with who I am completely. My husband is the loving voice of truth over me. So thankful for that, I don’t take it for granted.

  7. r.elliott

    wonderful…wonderful…Yes…learning to be the mom He created us to be…to the children He created us to raise…oh how I wish I would have known this as a younger mom. Well done my friend…you are a gifted writer.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too, wished I learned it earlier. But I guess we are all on a learning curve when it comes to parenting aren’t we? Nothing comes in a neat package with a bow when it comes to life lessons.

  8. Denise

    Such a good post.

  9. tara pohlkotte

    my husband jason and i had this conversation just this past weekend. “is it bad that our kids like to stay home and hang out with us?” even in kindergarten and preschool so many parents go to all of these things with their kids. dropping them off here and there. yet, i find joy in holding my sons hand in mine, teaching him how to plunk out songs on our piano then sending him off to learn somewhere else… you said it all, right here “God makes children in His own image. Not the image of the neighbor kids.” words i needed. this whole thing is just beautiful. thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Just one more thing we have in common, even though we are in differen places along the journey. I used to feel like something was wrong with them when I focused on what other kids were doing and somewhere along the way God spoke to me (probably through my wise husband) and I realized I thought they needed to fit the mold of culture to be acceptable. Such wrong thinking and it is so freeing to just let them be who God created them to be. Glad it resonated Tara and so glad you are part of the Imperfect Prose team. More people need to read your beautiful words.

  10. Leslie Durham

    Thanks for this clarion call to all mothers. We don’t have to compete with others. We can rest in ourselves and our God-given wisdom. Well done!!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Amen Leslie! And I think you have done a pretty marvelous job of mothering yourself.

  11. Christina

    We struggle so much with how other mothers do it, comparing our children to theirs. It’s freeing to know that God has a different story to tell for each child. I love how you described wisdom. Thanks for this reminder to live our children as He’s made them.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Comparison and misperception still waves her finger in my face from time to time Christina, but so glad to be more free from it the older they get.

  12. kd sullivan

    This is so beautiful..and so true! May we correctly balance perception and reality in every area of life.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Amen Kim. I think about it in terms of blogging too.

  13. Nancy Franson

    Their stories are written by Him. We have the privilege of being a major character in the storyline, but we don’t dictate the story. This was a a grace-filled awakening for me at some point during my children’s teen years. He’s writing the story, and He is good.

    Beautiful, Shelly. Just beautiful.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Maybe it the teen years that wake us up to this. When we can see more clearly who God has made them to be. Thanks for your encouragement Nancy and for the FB share today. You bless me.

  14. brian miller

    truth is the smile of god looking back at you in that mirror…ha…really like that line…it is interesting the resonance of not comparing in the IP posts these last 2 weeks…and to ponder too what we see happening in our families and acknowledging we are not all built the same…wise…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So good to know you are hearing this echo Brian. I find that true most weeks. That there seems to be a common thread or theme in writing. Its a clue to what God is saying and how He is using the body of Christ to minister to one another I think.

  15. Cristal

    I needed to be reminded today that God is the Author. That teenage rebellion is not what the surface shouts loudly. That pre-teen fears are not the end of the story. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It so true Cristal, that what shouts on the surface is not always the same as what lies beneath when it comes to the teen years. Something this feeling mama finds hard to live with on some days. I’m seeing mine slowly grow out of the stage, it gets better . . .I promise.

  16. Heidi

    Shelly, this is full of wonderful and important reminders… and beautifully written. I love this… “And you’ll realize that most of communicating Christ has to do with the silence of living that shouts who He is, not what you do.” So very true!

  17. simplystriving

    Yes. to all of it.
    Thanks for filling me up today, friend!

  18. Paula

    It is sooo hard to imagine that for even a moment you could perceive yourself as an “inadequate mother”. You are a wonderful mother, and I KNOW it! Have fun in Europe!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well we all have those moments and days and weeks Paula when it comes to raising children. They keep us humble and on our knees. Thanks for being my cheerleader and support for all these years.

  19. janaecharlotte

    I love how kind your words are – they are acceptance and grace and a deep breath.

  20. Ms. Kathleen

    Fabulous letter. When I look at my kids all grown up I think – actor/musician/writer, artist/web designer, child care/Ihop manager, carpenter/basketball player – Funny how things turn out. God is in control – I lay my children at the feet of HIS throne. Amen!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I wonder often what my kids will do, how their lives will evolve, how God will use them. And like you I lay them at His feet.

  21. Do Not Disturb

    Gorgeous letter. Such an encouragement to my soul today!


  22. Emily Theresa Wierenga

    oh girl. this post…. it left me breathless. truly. and so encouraging, after a deeply disappointing day. love you, e.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh Em, that makes me smile knowing this encouraged you after a difficult day. Yay! I know you encourage me every time I read your words.

  23. joepote01

    Shelly, this post is beautiful, and so true! What an encouragement to mothers (and fathers) in all different circumstances!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Joe, thanks. I hope so. I am a bit down the road with parenting but learning, always learning and growing.

  24. Stacie

    So much good stuff in here! The one that’s going to stick with me most today is that God makes children in his image, not the neighbor’s. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Stacie, so glad you stopped by. And unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way. Hoping my sharing will help others learn earlier than I did!

  25. Amber

    Thank you so much for this! My 18 yr old daughter has been known to drive herself to church while we slept from sickness. That you said that is a huge blessing to me, because as she gets ready to spread her wings now, all I can see are her shortcomings and I blame myself. So thank you for helping me focus on the positive–the REALITY, not what the enemy wants me to hear.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I know what you mean. I need those reminders too. As mothers we get so focussed on training that we fail to see what they are learning in the process. So thankful you were able to see with new eyes. And grateful you stopped by to visit and leave a comment. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Janelle, God is good and so gracious. Thankful for timely words.

  26. kimahall

    This is a message so many moms need to hear, act upon and draw courage from. I can’t count the conversations I had where I encouraged moms to stand up to schools, or mean girls, or for what worked for their kids and family. Often, though, parents would shy away from the potential conflict, and just take on a “head down and power through” attitude.

    It was hard when our girls were growing up. Even though we weren’t Christians at that time, we were different. We lived differently, frugally, we weren’t joiners, or sports oriented parents. I know it was sometimes hard on the girls, too. Yet, it was the path they chose as well, to be good and decent girls, friends, and women, regardless of the cost. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I lived with the mirage that I needed to follow the crowd to be happy and then one day I realized they were actually following me and I was clueless. SO glad you stoppped by from the Allume posts. I need to get over there and read those words linked up.

  27. tereasamansfield

    Shelly, Thank you for this. I think that I most often have the proper perspective in regards to my children. I struggle with wondering what the other moms think. Do they recognize that my children are not like theirs and that that’s okay? I often feel the need to defend my children and the choices we make as a family. I am maturing enough to bite my tongue and I pray that Christ will grow me toward not having the thoughts at all.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I just said in a previous comment but will repeat myself becasue it resonates with what you say here too. I spent so much of my early parenting years thinking everyon else knew what I didn’t. That they somehow had more knowledge or wisdom and then one day I realized they were actually following my lead. Yikes was I clueless. We just have to be led by God, not other moms don’t we?

  28. Mary Bonner (@MaryB0583)

    I love the way Nancy Franson said it “Their stories are written by Him.” Once I get that in my head it is easier to embrace that my son’s adult choices might be different than the choice I would make for him, but I am not in charge!!

    This is a beautiful post…thank you for sharing. It is truly inspired!


    • Redemption's Beauty

      Parenting is a lesson in letting go isn’t it Mary. I think I have learned more about God as a parent than any other way!

  29. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    This is absolutely beautiful, Shelly. You touch me for many reasons. One, because I was one of those quieter children who didn’t fit the mold of loving to play ball or be an extrovert and has always fought against feelings that I had to change and become more aggressive, more p.e. minded, more like everyone else. (I remember one time when a librarian balled my mom out because she was trying to answer for me while I stood there shyly tongue-tied at 7… and how I felt like, don’t yell at my mom for who I am!!) Two, because… knowing the sadness of your own loss of a real mom role model all those growing up years… this truly reflects the beautiful mom YOU are, the one God has made you. And that is the picture of “mom” I hope you hold most in your heart. (I’ve never had the chance to be the mom I always dreamed I’d be…so all my cherished moments of “mom” are from my own. How beautiful that you have had so many years to be the mom… 🙂 A gift I’m glad He gave you.) My dad was raised in a horrible home, with no love from his father and a mom who was too afraid of her husband (30 yrs her senior) to really love her kids as they needed. I am always amazed at how he knew how to love his own family… But the hunger in him for family, and the hunger in you for yours, gave you a deeper mom’s heart. One that shines His heart!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I was actually afraid to be a Mom, felt totally clueless. But I admired women in my life who lived the kool-aid mom role so well that I wanted to be like them. Grateful for redemption that looks like the faces of my children.

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