I have had my head in the clouds for the past couple of days.
I am continually amazed at how the smallest thing can set me running back into the enticing arms of Denial for (false) comfort and hope.
Even though I know it’s a façade, a sham, full of half truths and empty promises, Denial’s embrace is a comfortable place. When pain comes rushing in, my heart longs for the familiar.
Sometimes cuddling up to my old lover can feel exhilarating. Why? Because Denial promises relief. When my heart is hurting and life feels unbearable, I’ll do almost anything to feel better.
When Denial tells me I can fly, I want to believe it. And before I know it, there I am up in the sky. I temporarily defy gravity and get launched into space.
When I am up in the clouds, my world looks so teeny, tiny and my problems are so far off in the distance that it's easy to forget there is a real world outside of my denial-induced fantasy.
So I float along, blissfully unaware.
I understand the importance of getting outside of my problems, of stepping away to see the bigger picture. But Denial takes my hand and leads me way outside the perimeter of "perspective" and into the land of make-believe.
When I'm there, it’s a lot like living in a fairy tale. I convince myself that I am lingering between my own “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after” and at any minute a prince is going to come and kiss me out of my slumber.
I tell myself that floating high above the ground gives me a better vantage point. I will see the prince coming; I won’t be caught unaware.
The anticipation part of denial is what is (temporarily) intoxicating. I get high on the thin air. I get high on my ability to “fly.” I get high on the beautiful story I keep telling myself--the story that promises quick resolutions and miraculous interventions.
But at some point, my high gets interrupted. The clock ticks on, and there is no prince on the horizon. My hope starts to wane and I am forced to make a decision: stay asleep forever, or slap my own cheeks and wake myself up.
Today I chose to muster up the self-respect and tenacity it takes to rise from my bed in spite of the prince’s absence.
There’s a lot of talk about the wonder and gift of fairy tales these days (at least in the spaces on the Internet where I spend my time).
I understand where others are coming from--the notion that fairy tales strike a chord within all of us because they are a shadow of things to come, a mirror of the Ultimate Love Story where Creator God ends strife and destruction and whisks His bride off into eternity.
But I don’t connect to fairy tales in that way. I never have. I don’t think about the Eternal when I read a great love story. I think about NOW.
The fairy tale mentality hasn’t deepened my faith, it has quenched it.
Fairy tale thinking has been the food that nourishes my love affair with Denial. Fairy tales promise me the same things that Denial does: if I wait long enough, the ultimate resolution to my pressing problems will come.
Life turns into a waiting game.
But life is not so tidy and linear. There is never just ONE conflict in our life’s story. So there is never just ONE answer. There is never just ONE kiss needed or ONE wave of the wand that can end my troubles forever. Answers haven’t come to me when I sit around and wait for them.
All of this leads me back to where I started. At the word STAND.
It’s interesting that as soon as I chose that word, I have wanted to do everything BUT stand. Last week, all I wanted to do was lie down in a puddle of tears and this week I want to lift my feet off the ground and float away entirely.
When I introduced my word, I shared a Bible verse about life's daily spiritual battle that prompted me to choose the word STAND.
It says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
In the very next sentence, the writer explains specifically what he means by spiritual armor. He breaks it down, piece by piece. He writes, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”
Putting on my truth-belt requires concerted effort. I have to do a lot of self-talk. Often out loud. I have to go through a long list of things I know to be true. I have to look myself in the mirror. I have to pace the floors.
Truth is what grounds me. When I wrap it around my core, my center, Denial loses its grip. Then suddenly, quite amazingly, I find my feet are touching the ground again.
The belt of truth is my gravity belt. It keeps me out of the sky.
If I am going to STAND this year, I am going to need a lot of truth to do it.
It's not that I don't relish a great love story. I do. But I'm not going to linger in the clouds until it finds me. I'm going to keep my feet firmly planted, stare into the face of the waves that are raging, and see what emerges in the storm.
And I won't need a prince to find me. Because I will already be wide awake.