1/23/2024   by Matt Lewellyn

Want to know a secret? It'll be hard to believe, but it's time I tell it like it is: I have a kid who does not like to do homework. I know, right? Night before it's due, pencil is on paper, but no words coming out. Or, the assignment was never brought up - "No, I don't have any more homework to do."

As much as I do my dad thing and try to teach that it won't just go away because we don't want to do it, that doesn't seem to have much of an effect. My child may need to discover reality through different means.

Thing is, we all have things in our lives that we wish were different. Hopefully not everything - we should also have things we want to stay the same. But the sameness is where we're comfortable. For the rest, we have to work with the dissonance between what we want, and what is.

Every day, a part of us has to executively deal with the fact that reality is different from the way we wish it was. Which is a bit of a problem, because we all have different levels of ability to deal with this difference. In our ideal world, we would be able to order everything just the way we think it ought to be. We might even throw a shortcoming or two in our corner, just to keep things even and have a decent story arc for our lives.

But since that highest ideal isn't in the cards (self actualization has very strict limits, dontcha know), I think we would settle for second best: being able to perfectly navigate the world as it really is. I want to be a quick study on new subjects, feel appropriate emotions at the appropriate times, be immune to irrational elements of conversations, relate well, and build my stake within the system.

Unfortunately, that's not in the cards either. We have weaknesses that prevent it, and we have vices where we refuse it. Vices are the easy one to point at. Whatever that vice is, if we are acting in ways that do not fit the design of the universe, then our energy is going against that ideal. Where the ideal is being in tune with reality and setting a harmonic resonance with it, pursuing vices sacrifices that end for discord.

What about weakness, though? Weaknesses would include physical condition, that we may not be able to keep up with our hopes and dreams by virtue of strength (or the lack thereof). Physical limits are one thing that affects us, but sometimes our brains also simply refuse to conform to reality. We can have depression that keeps us down and saps all our energy. We may have anxiety that pushes fears upon us that we do not welcome.

Mental health can be defined as the integration between our internal mental structures and the world as it is. In other words, reality is what it is - how able are we to make the adjustment and interact within it?

Our baseline perception of reality affects everything, from self image, to relationships, to how we think of sin. Some of it comes from our family of origin and the patterns we have observed day in and day out for all the years of our lives. Other parts are spoken in, to great affect. Dealing with the past becomes very important, as does continually ingesting superior truth. Both of these activities are intended to bring our perception into greater alignment with the real.

Spiritual reality does transcend the physical, to be sure. But if we are struggling in terms of mental health and wellness, and if we are not well-equipped to deal with the difference between our perception and what is real, we will also struggle to put the transcendent in its place. That will come out looking like crises of faith, like a lack of trust in God's character, and (often) like an obsessive-compulsive approach to spirituality.

Our grasp of the spiritual is affected by our ability to deal with everything else. If we lack the feeling that we are grounded in everyday life, we will likely have that same insufficiency in a Christian walk. This is quite natural and ought not be a cause of great concern. It will feel like a great concern, to be sure, but we must learn that God's promises do not depend on our feelings. And, he is not offended by our weakness.

For we all bring certain weakness to the table, don't we? Only one man in history has been able to completely and perfectly interact in integration with reality - the man Christ Jesus. We consistently reject the real. He embraced the real, but the real rejected him.



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