That Dress

that dress

Does this dress make me look color blind?

By now, you’ve likely seen the infamous white and gold picture of the blue and black dress and read some of the discussions.

On the one hand, it’s nothing unusual.  We’ve all seen pictures that were either over-exposed or under-exposed to take on colors that don’t match the original.  And it is certainly not newsworthy to realize that we don’t all see things exactly the same.  A sports coat that looks navy blue to me is likely to look royal blue to my wife…or a pair of socks that looks black in the bedroom is navy blue in full sunlight.

What makes this picture so unique is the drastic contrast.  Two people look at the exact same picture in the exact same lighting, and one sees a blue dress with black trim while the other sees a white dress with gold trim.  Yes, there are others who see something in between…such as a light blue dress with olive trim.  Those in-betweens are understandable by all…and expected.  We’ve learned to accept some minor variance of perception.  The startling reality is in realizing that color perception can vary so greatly as the difference between white and dark blue…or between gold and black.  That’s a major difference in perception!

Just as startling is the realization that nothing changes the personal color perception.  We have all been informed that the actual dress is dark blue with black trim.  I have no problem accepting this as fact…but it does absolutely nothing to change the equally factual truth that the picture I see is white with gold trim.  And no amount of anyone telling me the color of the real dress does anything to change what I see when I look at the picture.

This is the challenge we continually face as a bloggers.  Our goal, in every blog post, is to share a snippet of our perception with others…to enable the reader to catch a glimpse of life as we see it.

Many times, a reader is able to readily identify with a post, which is very rewarding.  It’s good to know others share perceptions similar to ours and to know we were able to verbally capture an emotion or experience.

Other times, a reader will have their perception of a topic altered by what we shared.  These moments are extraordinarily rewarding…to know God used our words to change someone else’s perception.

Most often, though, readers having a perception different from mine leave my post with their perception unchanged.  They see blue and black where I see white and gold, and nothing has changed that for either of us.

In the case of the dress picture, it doesn’t really matter.  It’s an interesting realization, but the fact that we see the colors in the picture differently doesn’t impact how any of us live our lives or how we interact with others.

In regard to some of the topics discussed on this blog, it matters greatly.  I am often discussing biblical truth rather than color perception.  And the topics I discuss are the sort that can make the difference between a person continuing to live in bondage or escape to liberty…the difference between seeing oneself as an object of God’s love or an object of His wrath…the difference between treating a fellow believer with compassion and mercy or treating them with rigid legalistic indifference.

I frequently intentionally write about topics on which I am well aware my perception is substantially different from that of many popular learned scholars.  And my goal is not to simply throw out an opinion, but to alter a reader’s perception…to help them see that the picture they’ve always viewed as one color is actually a different color…that the scripture passage they’ve always seen as saying one thing actually says something quite different.

And to top it all off, I write with the constant awareness that my perception is also flawed and incomplete…that I often have as much to learn from readers as they from me.

It’s a monumental task…an impossible task…a God-sized task.  It is a task that can only be accomplished through the power of The Holy Spirit.

It sure is fun to see Him at work!  🙂


[Linked to Messy Marriage, Wild Flowers, Wellspring, Redeemed Life ]


21 thoughts on “That Dress

  1. I think you accomplish your goals beautifully, Joe. A first-rate job, with clear logic and rigorously-researched underpinnings.

    I will take issue with one small thing, though.

    The phrase “…the difference between treating a fellow believer with compassion and mercy or treating them with rigid legalistic indifference.”

    We have to treat everyone, regardless of belief, with compassion and mercy; That is part and parcel of the Great Commission. If we don’t, regarding them as hell-bound because they are not believers and treating them accordingly, we’re falling back on a legalism of our own, and, I think, trespassing on God’s avenues of grace.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Visiting Hours {Five Minute Friday / The Weekend Brew}My Profile

  2. “What is truth is not always popular and what is popular is not always truth.” This is a quote often used by a dear man on another blog site. It seems the ones speaking truth aren’t being heard by many. Thank you for speaking truth and showing light where others try to enslave.

  3. This dress color thing sure did spread fast. But such a great analogy for posts like yours, Joe! We do all have flawed perceptions over different things, and we need to be asked frequently to look at them from a fresh viewpoint. You’re great at doing this. Yes, it sure is fun to see God at work in this!
    Lisa notes… recently posted…Plant your seed of freedomMy Profile

    • Hmmm…

      Yes, and your post, this morning, is an excellent example, Lisa.

      Those seeds of prejudiced perceptions run deeper than we realize…and require frequent assessment and uprooting.

      Thank you, so much!
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

  4. It’s often a thankless task too, Joe. I feel like what you are describing is your spiritual gift of exhortation as well as prophet or teacher giftings. No one likes the “prophet” in the room that addresses hard issues with the purifying and DIVIDING power of truth. 😉 I feel that pull to those areas of ministry as well and see that this makes me less popular by some–perhaps the ones I shouldn’t worry about too! I sometimes don’t like what comes with the territory but we both must remain committed to the task God has called us to–letting Him use our unique and God-given wiring. {Preaching to myself here, can you tell??} I’m grateful that you have remained true to that calling, Joe! You are making a difference, I’m sure of it! Keep it up, my friend!
    Beth recently posted…3 ways dating your spouse is like prayer; and 2 keys to getting better at both! {WW Linkup}My Profile

    • Yes…sometimes thankless…sometimes very rewarding. It all depends on whose feedback I’m listening to.

      It’s sort of funny, in a way. By nature, I dislike and avoid conflict. I want everyone to get along and like each other.

      Yet my calling seems to include a lot of challenging conventional wisdom…which, of course, meets resistance and conflict.

      Thank you, Beth, for your friendship and encouragement. You keep up the good work, as well. Your Messy Marriage blog is an encouragement to many and handles the topic of relationships with much more wisdom than most.
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

  5. Joe, really great analogy. Two people. One obvious conclusion. Divergence. No one sees things quite the same as another. That’s the frustration — and joy of our existence.

    • “That’s the frustration — and joy of our existence.”


      Our unique individuality is well worth celebrating! …yet makes communication all the more challenging…

      Thank you, David!
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

  6. I saw a blue and brown dress – and I love it that color! LOL I was surprised it cause such a ruckus – but you did redeem the dress. You used the hoopla for God. For the last few weeks, I looked outside and saw God’s magnificence. Others looked outside and saw something awful, restricting, confining, uncomfortable. You are so right about how we need to express our perceptions with love – and receive other’s perceptions with the same kind of love. It is, indeed, wonderful when someone “gets” our point, sees what we see; another person’s perspective shouldn’t diminish our love for others, though we don’t agree! When you looked out into the snow and ice, what did you see?
    (BTW – so enjoyed the discussion on the dress!)

    • What did I see when I looked at the snow and ice?

      Well…the snow was definitely white…not dark blue. But over the next few days it did fade to a dirty brown color. 😉

      Seriously, though, you make a good point that we have a measure of control over our perceptions. I enjoyed the beauty of all the ice and snow, but was not nearly as excited as our teenage son, for whom the snow meant a day off from school.

      Our last round of snow occured right at full moon. The next evening, the glow of the full moon reflecting off of the snow blanketed landscape was truly mesmerizing.
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

  7. Wow, this dress thing makes a great metaphor. I’ll be sure to keep it in mind the next time I have trouble understanding how another person could see things so differently from the way I see them. And since I teach teenagers, that will be soon 🙂 Thanks for visiting me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!
    Renee @Doorkeeper recently posted…GreaterMy Profile

    • Hah! Teenagers definitely tend to have their own unique perspectives…and tend to be rather stubbornly tenacious in clinging to their perspective regardless of contradictory evidence or logic. 🙂
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

    • And I loved your recent guest post on Holly Barrett’s blog! I love how you handled such difficult topics as divorce, remarriage, and unresolved romatic attachments with such transparency and candor.

      Thank you, Gina!
      joe recently posted…That DressMy Profile

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