Perception Is Not Always Reality!


Another lesson that I learned during my tenure as a Prison Warden.

Many times people will use the phrase “Perception is Reality” or “Perception Becomes Reality” which is true in some cases; however “Perception Is Not Always Reality.”  One of the most common perceptions about prison is the old “Soap on a Rope” or “Big Bubba or Ben Dover” is going to get you. In other words, many people think that if you go to prison that you are going to get raped.

I am here to tell you that perception is not always reality.  There are definitely situations in prison where inmates are raped and even murdered; however that is the exception and not the rule.  Similar to the economy of scale applied to outside of the prison walls; you can be raped and murdered in the “Free World.”  There are plenty of willing participants behind the walls, that inmates generally don’t have to force themselves. Here are a few more prison perceptions that are not always reality:

  • Murderers are always the “Mean & Scary guys” (Many times, not the case.)
  • If someone is behind bars they can’t continue to commit crimes (There are networks of criminal behavior behind the prison walls, just as there are in the free world.  You give an idle mind and Satan a bunch of free time… Watch Out!)
  • “They are just claiming God because they are in prison.”  (Many times we have to find ourselves like Jonah, before we get it… remember these guys/gals are no different than many of us, they just happened to get caught.)

What are some perceptions that are not always reality that we face: I’m not good enough, I can’t do this because I’m a female, We will never get out of debt,  I’m to young, I will always be single, I couldn’t be a pastor, My business won’t be successful, You can’t shake that addiction, I will always be single, My marriage can’t be restored… the list goes on and on.  How many times have your perceptions been wrong about others and other’s perception been wrong about you?  Too Many Times!

Don’t settle for perceptions, because the reality is Perception Is Not Always Reality.  “I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.” ~Albert Einstein

What are some other perceptions that you have about prison?  What are some perceptions that you have overcome as not being reality?  Share your thoughts on Perception vs. Reality!

  • “I can do that tomorrow” – but tomorrow may already have enough on its plate. If you can do something good, do it today.

    Another perception that is not reality is one that is easy to avoid. When people short-cut language or grammar, they are often perceived to be stupid. Using text messaging lingo in other written mediums will change people’s perception, “if u no wat i mean”. Use too many verbal shortcuts when speaking, and people will assume that you don’t know how to talk. Pidgin dialects spring up all the time; they are fun to use and often speed up communication by conveying more than just the words. But pidgin dialects used outside the immediate cultural setting invite people to succumb to their preconceived notions.

  • How about if someone doesn’t go to an ‘Institutional Church’ (or regularly attends Sunday services, or what ever you want to call it) so we think they are not ‘serving’, ‘ministering’, or growing spiritually.

  • Jimmy Hankins

    “They are just claiming God because they are in prison.” This one made me laugh. I can just picture the Holy Spirit tapping someone on the shoulder after they make this comment and saying “Enough about him. Let’s talk about you”. What? Happens to me all the time. (grin)

    My favorite misconception is that my life is too complicated for me to find forgiveness or salvation. My second favorite misconception would just tick you all off, so I’ll skip it. (grin)

  • Someone in our community was recently accused of a horrible crime against a child. Well, you know the saying “there’s a special place in hell for those kinds of people”? That’s what I was thinking. That was my perception…until…my loving and fair husband gently reminded me that the smallest, tiniest, itty-bitty sin I have committed is EQUALLY disgusting and painful to God. This is MY reality…All have fallen short…Hard to take, isn’t it?

  • Scott Williams

    Al- thx 4 ur thoughts! xcuse me, i didn’t know what pidgin or pigeon dialects were… I know what jargon is.
    Rocco- Be the church, be the hands and feet of Christ! Amen
    Jimmy- He’s back! (grin) Thanks for your perspective, It made me LOL
    Lisa- Your husband is right unfortunately that’s now how most people process it.

    This is MY reality…All have fallen short…Hard to take, isn’t it?

  • Good stuff Scott. Reminds me of something about planks and specks.

    It’s so comforting for us to see someone with such huge and public problems that our sins seem minuscule in comparison. Oh, how we love to grade on the curve.

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