We live in a world of complexities and paradoxes. Of opposites. There is right, and there is wrong. So often these days I think that the line between the two is immensely blurry. And we get all of these things thrown into our faces about being “real” and what it means to be “real”.
Social media runs everything we do. This world has turned into a place where we are worthless without technology. It’s necessary for me to say to myself, “Take away the technology, the social media, all of that. Take it away. Do you still know who you are?”
I think most of us have this genuine need for privacy. Because of that, we get this skewed perception of what everybody’s life is like. We look on social media and see the happy faces. Then we get uncomfortable when we see the occasional midnight rant or revealing post from somebody whose life isn’t going very well and they decide to publicize it.
I’ve been going through this strange phase in my life where I am having a hard time distinguishing what is real and what is not. Let me explain. I am pulled one way by somebody’s opinion of what they think life is and what it should be, and then another way by somebody else, and then another way by somebody else. And so at the end of the day I look at all of these things and compare them to my own thoughts on life, and I just end up confused.
Sometimes I wish that I could just stand somewhere and yell for everybody to hear, “There is so much about what you’re doing that doesn’t matter! Family and faith are what truly matter. What are you doing? Where are you going? What is truly important here?”
But then I find that I’m guilty of it, too. I’m stuck in the same problem that I see. I want something real. I want to have a life that is open and honest. I want to be known as a noble person, who will always defend what she believes in and rely on what she knows to be true. But I find that, all too easily, I get caught in this whirlpool of lies and deceit, things that the world tells you that aren’t true at all.
I can post a cute picture of my nephews and I on social media, but that doesn’t really communicate that I cried myself to sleep the night before or that my life has ended up in a place I’d never even imagined. I can write a funny blog post, but that speaks nothing about feeling unwanted, labeled, and taken advantage of.
But we can’t just go around throwing our problems in everybody’s faces, either. Because the truth is that we are all struggling, we are all fighting some type of battle. Can you imagine how horrible that would be? Good grief, I’m almost crying just thinking about it. Talk about depression and negativity running rampant! Bleh…that doesn’t sound appealing at all. So what do we do?
One of my very favorite passages of scripture reads, “The truth shall make you free.” And another also says, “Men are that they might have joy.” If we combine these two very powerful ideas, something beautiful happens. We are here to be happy, and we are free to be happy when we embrace truth.
I believe in truth. I believe that there are eternal truths that will never change, regardless of whether or not we believe in them. I think of it this way: the Law of Gravity would not cease to exist just because we all decided we’d rather float. Truth is truth, no matter what. Truth is real. Love and light are real. Darkness is also real, but darkness is not a force. It does not move. It is simply the absence of light.
There is nothing wrong with walking through darkness. We have all done it, are doing it, and will continue to face darkness throughout our lives. It is the way God intended life to be. There is so much to learn, and how else are we to learn it if not through experience? But just because we find a shadow in our path does not mean that we are unable to turn on a light and bring it forward as we walk. Perhaps even the light will be dim, it may flicker. It may even go out. But there is always a way to turn it back on.
The last year and a half of my life has been harder than any I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t think that this particular time of struggle is yet over. But the last several weeks, especially since returning home, have been astonishing. I’ve been able to find so much love and light along my path. Though I believe it is a lesson that takes a lifetime to master (perhaps longer) I’ve tasted what it is like to find joy along with the sorrow. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about life, and about God.
So maybe that is the secret. We can choose to spread darkness, or we can choose to spread light. We can choose to acknowledge that there is darkness, but focus on the happiness instead. We can choose to be thankful, no matter what. We are a race of warriors. We fight for life and love and happiness. At the end of the day, we fight for what is real. There has to be opposition, or there would be no point. Without opposition, there would be no books, movies, or music. There would be no life. Hard things happen all the time. That’s just the way it is. It can be crippling. I know. But here are are a few other things I know without a doubt: the sun will rise again, God is always there, and there is always hope. What sort of wonderful being is God shaping you into? What spectacular things await you if you will but believe and endure?
That is real.