Friday, December 20, 2013

Real Reality

You know those credit card commercials that try to make consumers feel like they are buying an experience instead of just accumulating debt? 

The ones that say things like:
 "Dress and Tux: $4,500. Flowers: $1,500. Happily ever after: priceless".

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a funny example I found: 


Anyway, I saw one of these advertisements when I went to see The Hobbit a few nights ago. It was just a little sticker on the ticket-booth window, 
but it completely caught my attention. 

All it said was "A break from reality: priceless".

Now, you probably have already gathered that I have a tendency to philosophize even the smallest matters, 
but I could not help but be kind of taken back by this advertisement. 

I have two initial problems with it. 

1. The fact that Americans crave a break from reality kind of saddens me. I understand that feeling... I have had it before. But why do we want to escape? And as much as I enjoy movies and appreciate their artistic contribution to the world (and I really do), I cannot help but feel like entertainment is simply a means to numb us to the deep void we feel when we have nothing to do and have to sit quietly and reflect. 

2. If I haven't lost you yet, this second point is what I am really trying to get at. For the movies to be "a break from reality", that would have to mean that our day-to-day, eating, sleeping, going to work lives are the ultimate reality
I do not believe that is true, however. 

All of that stuff, well, it's kind of a fake reality. I am not saying it is bad. I am not saying it is good. I am simply saying that it lacks substance. 
In reality, it isn't the "real reality". 
Have I lost you yet? Stay with me here. 

God's reality is the real reality. And when we are distracted from that fact with our fake reality, we can do very little to grow as Christians or to impact the world for Christ. If we become caught up in the "fake reality" and think it is the real reality... and then furthermore go to movies to distract ourselves from what we believe to be the real reality... we have a huge mess on our hands. 

I do not want to be numbed to God's reality. I want to exist in it and be constantly aware of it. At the same time, however, I know that we were created to live this life... and that it would be wrong for me to say that we are supposed to walk around being ultra-spiritual to the extent that we scare people away from Jesus. 

Both extremes are incorrect. 
Instead, those two realities can and should merge. 

We should be "naturally spiritual and spiritually natural". 

Like Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) says:

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So, I will continue to go to movies. But not because I want a break from reality. Instead, I want to place my reality before God and walk in His reality. 
I want to fix my attention on Him. 
Embracing the incredible reality that He has for me?... priceless. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Noel, Noel...

How on earth is it already Christmas? 

Somehow - in the midst of ten-page APA research papers, finals week, and freezing cold temperatures, and my first indoor track meet -
Christmas kind of snuck up on me. 

And while I am usually obsessed with all things Christmas,
 I have felt more reflective than festive the last few days. 

I have been reminiscing on this time last year. I was so very different. My goals, my understanding of the world, my fears, my concerns.... they all feel so distant. I almost feel like that person wasn't me. 
Like she is just some character from a novel that I once read. 
It is a strange sensation, and it is one that I have often felt as I have grown and changed over the years. Three years ago at this time I was a lonely American girl wandering around Europe. 
That seems like a dream. Did that even happen?

And I have been contemplating the future. I have so many big dreams that do not in any way resemble a normal life. I have big fears, too. Fears of settling. Fears of failing. Fears of getting stuck in piles on school debt and having to work a 9-5 job that I hate and of not being happy. But mostly I am not afraid. Mostly I am excited and curious as to how my life is going to unfold. 
I want to know what is waiting around the corner. 

So all of these thoughts have been swirling around in my mind, and I suppose it is because I finally have time to think thoughts that don't have to do with Organizational Communication or Inferential Statistics. Christmas break is a great time to reflect and to re-assess and to contemplate. 

But it is also a time for celebration.
For Christmas parties. 
For catching up on good books. 
And for spending time with lovely friends. 

And of course - Christmas break is a time for running. Even in the snow and cold. I will be training hard this break. Running everyday, lifting every other day, and swimming two or three days a week. Indoor season is short and fast. And I don't want to miss out on any opportunities because of a lack of preparation. I am so grateful that I am healthy and able to run, as well, because last year at this time I was dealing with a nasty achilles injury that put me out for over a month.


Anyway, to get Christmas break started right and to get into the Christmas spirit, my sister and I did some Christmas shopping today (its about time I got on that) and did some holiday baking tonight. And it was lovely. [I am aware how silly it is to parallel Christmas spirit with consumerism and sugary treats, but that is another topic for another blogpost.]
For now, I will just say goodnight :)