As a kid I remember looking in the mirror and wishing I could be something other than what stared back at me. I wanted to be Tarzan, my comic book hero. But no matter how hard I wished to be something other than the reality, it didn’t happen.
One of the greatest lessons life has taught me is the lesson of dealing with reality as reality so I can live a better life.
At the 1976 Montreal Olympics Bruce Jenner set a world record in the decathalon. He became known as the “greatest athelete in the world.” Before long his picture appeared on the front of my Wheaties cereal box. He went on to star in several TV roles. And now he is in the news again. I guess I should say he’s not in the news but she’s in the news. Bruce is now Caitlyn. Even Wiki has made the change on their entry about Jenner.
The Bruce to Caitlyn story begs the question: how do we really define gender? Without going into all the various views I’ll simply state mine: gender is determined by our chromosomes and not our desires. Wiki puts it like this: “Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex.”
The reality of the Bruce to Caitlyn story is he is still a he. Bruce can wear feminine clothes and change his name but at the core he is XY not XX. The news media insists I call him a she and by his new name. I will be labeled as insensitive if I refuse. But no matter how you slice it, reality really is reality and you must deal with it.
I’m thinking of the reality you and I need to deal with, especially as we grow older. To cover up or ignore reality can lead us down the road of hurt and disappointment. For example, I’m pretty sure the reality is I will never be accepted into NASA’s astronaut space program. I could apply, study, and train but no matter what I do reality says it will not happen. It would be a waste of time for me to pursue a dream like that.
How do you deal with reality? Cover it up? Ignore it? Put lipstick on it and dress it up into something it’s not? Lie to yourself? Medicate yourself?
One of the genuine challenges of maturing is to deal with the reality of your present situation. Maybe you resonate with a few of these examples:
- You will never attain the lofty career goals you made 20 years ago.
- You will never be rich.
- Retirement means working until you die because your pension stinks.
- Years ago you made some devastating decisions which changed your life’s direction and you remain deeply shamed.
- The home you grew up in was like a bad circus in a bad town on a bad day and you still feel the impact.
- Your spouse deserted you.
It hurts to look reality square in the face. It’s so tempting to put lipstick on it and call it something else. Let me say it clearly:
Until you look reality in the face and deal with it you will be forced to live in a distorted world of your own creation.
39 years ago my brother died while on spring break in Florida due to a drunk driver. Mom took down all of his pictures off the wall. We did not feel free to mention his name in her presence. Failing to face the reality of his death, my mom could not celebrate his life. It became a double tragedy.
What realities have you put lipstick on and dressed up as something it isn’t? Maybe you should face a reality you’ve been avoiding. Deal with it. Move on. And by dealing with it you will become a better person.
After some close self-examination I realize that I’m not a very compassionate person. It’s not that I don’t have pity for others, but I’ve always had the attitude of you did it to yourself, why should I bail you out, put your work boots on and change things yourself. Reality is this is not what God would want . Reality is I can not change this attitude of mine by myself. With God and listening to The Holy Spirit I can change. I don’t think it will change in an instant, but with this problem area I didn’t even know I had, I can change with His help. I read of the passionate ministries of Revolution 313, and I have a hard time understanding how Brent and his family can give so much and lay themselves out there like they do. Then I remember ” The least of these”. Sometimes I feel like Paul in not doing the things I want to do, and doing the things I don’t want to do . Reality for me is wanting to live a Christian life, and knowing with out His careful guidance I can not.
Thanks Troy for your great comment. The reality is it is really hard to deal with reality!
This is a real tough concept for a great many people. Failing to define/identify reality limits my choices and sets me up for failure. Ignoring it also allows it to sneak up at the most inopportune time and hit me like a shovel. Maybe that’s why the writers of various NT letters remind us to stay ‘alert, awake, and sober-minded’……
I have looked reality square in the face, Randy. And it doesn’t only hurt…it is devastating. As you said, that’s the right thing to do, but it didn’t give me anything to feel good about or look forward to except the hope of Heaven. I guess I am a “burned out Boomer”.
Tim! Looking reality in the face may not feel any better than having s root canal but it needs to be done to get better! What is one thing you could do today to move you forward to a better tomorrow? Thanks for your comment.
Just wow. You SO nailed this. SO. Nailed. This.
Ok, I’ve expressed in the past an attitude of surrender … oh, not in the good “I surrender all to you Lord” kind of way (although that’s certainly a part of this process) but the white flag waiving that accompanies, well, I think I might call it self pity. I’ll just hang it up.
Your examples. Are we brothers from another mother?
– You will never attain the lofty career goals you made 20 years ago. (Amen to that, doors quietly shut, and locked)
– You will never be rich. (I’m not a betting man, but I’d put my money–well, what I have–on that!)
– Retirement means working until you die because your pension stinks. (ain’t no doubt)
– Years ago you made some devastating decisions which changed your life’s direction and you remain deeply shamed. (yeah, shame/guilt/regret … close friends)
– The home you grew up in was like a bad circus in a bad town on a bad day and you still feel the impact. (wasn’t quite the Cleaver household we put out there)
– Your spouse deserted you. (for alcohol/drugs)
But, I get it. Well, more in my head than heart. Gotta start somewhere. This morning I’ve been thinking about moving forward with going back to school. Am I too old? Have I missed the boat? Or…
Am I afraid.
See, I’ve done this trip throughout my life. I’ve not merely dealt with reality. I’ve chosen to stay stuck. It seems I’ve done my own little blame game.
It is what it is, as they say. I’m this age … not sure how I got here. But I can’t go back. Doors have closed. But focusing on those keeps me from going through the open ones that are left.
Dammit (sorry, but expressing the push I need to jump the hurdle) I just gotta do it. Take the lipstick off of the ever so attractive avoidance.
Thanks Garry for honest share. Your best days can be ahead.
You are as young right NOW as you’ll ever be! Time to get in stuck. Thanks for your honest comments. Yeah. Maybe we are related!
My biggest regret is the kindergarten teaching position that was dangled before me 20+ years ago! The principal, I thought was my friend and I got jabbed painfully in the back! I stopped, had lots of emotional upheaval. I turned to substitute teaching, it was NOT nearly as satisfying as it was while I was starting that new kindergarten class. I had the class for about 5 days. I was ON TOP of the world!! I knew that is where God had placed me, totally fulfilled as a teacher and loved the kids immediately. She brought in a new graduate to take my place. My world stopped and was never quite the same. I wonder what our life would have been like if I would have been teaching like I was trained to do and wanted to do? Reality, Social Security is not much security and you wonder when they will start taking away from it. I had to take my teacher retirement early, so it did not get to grow in volume. ;) ! Reality check!!! Praise the Lord, we have a future in heaven with Jesus…..what better future to look forward too??
I am grossly disappointed with the Jenner issue. He lived with all those females who did anything and everything for the almighty dollar and maybe this is his way of trying to make more money for himself, instead he is making a sorry fool of himself. I pray he will find someone who can help him and someone to lead him to find Jesus as his Lord and Savior!
Gary, one of the dumbest things I ever did in my life was pursue a masters degree at age 57. What would have been dumber would have been if I had NOT pursued it when finally able to do so! The technology and aged brain made for a traumatic ride but some how I was graced from God to succeed and achieve. Now at 64 I have much to look forward to as my exit strategy towards retirement excites me to reinvent myself. Then Randy came out and bloged that it is better to hire the “experienced” 50 plusers ! Go for it ,Gary! Moses was 80 when he started his second career and the artiest Grandma Moses was 75 when she started painting. The KFC fast food was started by Colonel Sanders at 65!