I think facing reality is one of the most difficult human struggles. Maybe I'm thinking that because I'm realizing how much time I spend trying to escape my reality. I spend 10 hours a day consumed in the toil of my labor, and the other 6 hours of my day I spend trying to forget the first 10. I identify with the Teacher of Ecclesiastes when he writes "Meaningless! Meaningless!... What does anyone gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?" If we were all really honest, I think we'd all somewhat identify with the sentiment of what the Author is trying to say. I'm not sure what is worse, that my labors are meaningless, or that I spend much of my time trying to forget that my labors are meaningless.
I think entertainment is the cocaine of our country... we are addicted and it brings our escape from reality. I'm not saying that entertainment is innately a bad thing, it's something that should be enjoyed relationally, together, in our communities. But I also think that entertainment is easily turned into substance abuse, just another symptom of a deeper cancer. We want more and more and we are less and less satisfied. Movies, sports, T.V. shows, music, video games, facebook updates and apps, hours spent staring at a computer screen... all diversions from the reality we live in, the reality that we wish not to face.
Of course there are much worse things that people turn to for their escape... alcohol, drugs, porn. But the truth is that even without all of these things we will still find ourselves attempting to escape reality. I often catch myself living in fantasy. If I only moved to this city and had this big plan, then everything would be romantic and true. If I only had this job and made this amount of money, then I wouldn't have any worries. If I only took this road trip to this place. If I only lived this sort of lifestyle that would allow me to live justly, peacefully, happily. If I only, if I only, if I only.
Why does it seem that I'm wired to escape what God has placed in front of me? I think it might be that I was created to live in peace. Peace with myself, peace with others, peace with the circumstances I exist within. But what's in front of me disturbs my soul, breaks my heart, takes me away from the peace I was created to exist in. So I seek. Usually taking the easiest means possible. Fantasy, entertainment, whatever makes me feel a little more at peace, a little more in control.
The problem with all of these means of escape is that they fly right in face of our faith. They contradict the very thing Jesus is trying to offer us... peace. We toil. We go through a million means seeking peace for our souls, and each seems to destroy us a little bit more. Instead of meeting Christ and facing the poor circumstances and situations we live in, we turn our heads, both from Jesus and reality. Reality is that there is no peace that comes from this world. To admit and acknowledge this is to let go of control, and we don't like letting go of control. At least I feel in control while I'm attempting to flight my reality.
Truth is that Jesus is offering us peace in our reality. But it's the most frightening thing we might ever do, trust that Jesus is who He says He is. Trust that our reality, our lives, will be okay in the end. Trust that we no longer need to toil anymore. Trust that peace is ours now, if we'll only have it. In the midst of terrible and tragic circumstances, Jesus is offering us peace. Anywhere and everywhere on this earth, Jesus is offering us peace.
May we start trusting, accepting, and coming to Jesus a little more each day. And having that peace, may we begin to face our realities a little more each day. We might just find ourselves being a little more satisfied with where we are. We might find ourselves loving a little more, enjoying those who exist around us, offering our hand of peace, for no other reason than that we have received it from the One who gives it.
Reality be in your hearts. Peace be in your hands.