Tuesday, 30 August 2016

What is Real?

Realness, authenticity, genuineness.

These are words that all hit a chord in me.  I love people being open, and, call me creepy, but I can usually detect when they're not.

I have a read a lot of articles on being real - I've talked it, heard the songs (Stain Glass Masquerade, anyone???), seen the memes, the gifs, the videos.  I have also given it a good deal of heart and head consideration and this is what I think.

Because what bothers me is how being real is different to almost every person you meet.  Yes, we are all different, but we are all also humans.  We think, we feel, we have triumphs, and we fall.  We were all made by the One God - whether we acknowledge the point or not - and one day we will all face eternal life or eternal death.  These things are true.  They are the reality of all of us.

The thing about reality is that you cannot change what was your reality.  The past is in the past.  It is set in stone.  Does that mean it controls the reality of your future?  No.  It may have influence because actions - whether your own or the actions of others - have consequences, but the only only person on earth who has control over your reality is you.  This not to say that you can control every circumstance that comes your way, and it does not mean that if you deny the bad things that happen in your life they will go away.  What it does mean is that you can control how those circumstances affect you.

To me, being real and describing your reality is so much more than what is happening in your world right now.  I think being real goes beyond what anyone can see, what you feel, and what you think about yourself.  Let me explain.

We all have struggles.  We're human.  One of mine is that I am convinced that people don't really like me that much.  Even as I type it, I smile at myself.  It is so stupid!  Right now, I don't think much of it at all, but as soon as I am around other people, I have to fight with myself in my head constantly to avoid retreating completely so that I don't annoy anyone, or so I tell myself.

 The reality of this life is that there are two kingdoms at war - two very real kingdoms, and they both want you on their side.  In order to get to your soul, they have to get to your head first, then your heart.  These two are the pathway to your soul.  The mind is an aggressive battlefield.  Whichever kingdom - the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of Darkness - that you give ground to will eventually become your reality.  This does not mean that the other kingdom ceases to exist, but that it has a weaker and weaker influence on you as you continue to give ground to the kingdom you choose.

This is not to say that if you have discouraging or deprecating thoughts, you are not a Christian any longer, but know this for certain: God will never discourage you.  So the moment thoughts of self-deprecation and discouragement to come, shut them down and tell them Who you belong to.

Reality is made of the kingdom you choose to give ground to.  Some time ago, I was hurt and offended by something someone did to me.  For quite a long time - nearly a year - I struggled with seeing that person.  I didn't want to see them.  I could hardly stand to think of them because it opened up the wound so deeply and it hurt too much.  After a long time, I was given a word from a godly minister friend of mine - who had no idea what I was struggling with - about dealing with hurt and taking my heart to Jesus to be healed.  It took time, but nearly a year on from that moment, I can confidently say I no longer hurt from that wound.  It has left a scar, and I am reminded of it when I see this person.  But I also had to make a decision concerning how I treated the person who had hurt me.  From the very start - even when I was still angry and aching so much - I decided that my hurt was something that no one outside the family needed to know about, because I needed to treat the person with the love and grace of Jesus.  This became easier as I healed and I have been able to grow and flourish beyond the pain that was inflicted.  It was not easy - it was excruciatingly hard.  I had to lecture myself in my head, 'I refuse to inflict pain like it has been given to me.  I am a Child of God, and I love others as I have been loved by Him.'  And the funny thing is, the more you tell yourself something, the firmer you hold to it, and the more you believe it.

Because of this experience, I find that love now flows from me more freely and openly than it did before.  This is not to say that I never lose my patience, never resent someone, but forgiveness comes easier now.  Because of my determination and reliance on God - sometimes only expressed through prayers of tears because words could not come for the pain - my joy and my peace abound.  In fact I have been able to determine that this whole painful period of my life has been absolutely instrumental to my growth in God, and the Fruit of the Spirit in me.  I choose to be kind and good and gentle to those around me.   I try my utmost to be patient and faithful in all I do.  Self control guides what I say and who I say it to.  All of this is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the easier it comes.

I am not claiming to be perfect, or better than anyone else.  I have struggles.  Everyday, I have struggles.  My struggles are very real.


My God is also real.  He has done amazing things in my life and while I do have real hurts and struggles in my life, to me, my joy and peace are even more real because I have experienced the comfort and the power that occurs when I choose to operate in the fruit of the Spirit, instead of my emotions.  Emotions are so shaky and unreliable.  Love - God's love - is unfailing.  His joy is never ending, and His peace is unshakeable.  If you see me, and I look happy and confident and peaceful, it's because I am.  I might be hurting and sad inside, but the joy and peace that comes from the Holy Spirit is so much stronger than the emotions I happen to be feeling that day, so I choose to live out of His Spirit rather than how I feel.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-9:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I have such incredible respect for the person who comes out of a difficult time and it only comes out afterwards that they have been struggling.  Apart from a few close confidants, no body else knew.  "But you were so peaceful!  How was it you didn't tell anyone?"

They answer, "I didn't need to - God's love, joy and peace sustained me.  His Spirit comforted me.  He provided a few close people to encourage me and He encouraged me Himself."