When I was a little kid I had a really active imagination. In the same day I could be a soldier, Luke Skywalker, and Major League pitcher. My stuffed animals all had different personalities. As I got older I was the Missouri Tigers in the driveway winning the national title (talk about imagination). As I got a little older I was me, playing for the Tigers.
Imagination as a little kid is vital. Taking time out from reality creates great play and creates visions of who we can be. It is good for a little kids’ emotional health. However it can be our enemy as an adult. As an adult it can take away from reality – and for the most part, escaping from reality means not dealing with reality which is bad, bad news.
One of the huge traps of Singleness is isolation. As a society as a whole we have become more and more isolated. We drive to work alone, often work alone and here’s the kicker, as a single person we come home alone. In fact the latest stats show that 28% of American adults live alone, and that number is rising. I’m not saying living alone is always bad but it can be. One of the results is that it is easier to slip into what I call “The Pretend”. It is the world in our head that doesn’t actually exist. It’s not real.
“The Pretend” includes all of our daydreams, speculation about what people are doing or thinking, and fake conversations with others (often with the person of the opposite sex we like) among other things. (By the way – for free – one of the ways to find out who you are not reconciled with is to ask “who do I have pretend arguments with in my head?”). It also includes secret sexual thoughts that lead to fantasy, porn, and masturbation, etc.
Here’s the thing. Besides being a colossal waste of time, it never turns out the way we speculate, most of it is bad, almost all of it is wrong, and none of it is real.
Now to be sure all people deal with this, married or single. This isn’t just a singleness problem. But one of the advantages of having a spouse, and especially kids, is that you are snapped back into reality over an over again. You go home and there they are. Now of course you can hide from your spouse or kids, plug in the ipod, jump on the internet etc. You can definitely be physically present but emotionally and mentally absent. But at least you have a physical person as an option. You can choose to disengage but you can also choose right and engage.
But as a single person this can be even more of a battle. There is no one there to snap you back to reality. Once you head down the path of getting into your own head there is often nothing there to stop it. I shutter to think of all of the time I’ve spent in the world of my head, in “the pretend”.
The cost of this is monumental. It can cause us to miss the real stuff. It can stress us out and tire our minds. It can lead us further into isolation and escapism. It can make us awkward around real people (especially around the opposite sex). It can keep us from engaging others and most importantly God.
We have to fight this – and it is a fight pure and simple. The road to victory is to engage. We have to engage God. Several years ago I started praying against “the pretend”. When I start to go there I just flat pray, “I come against “the pretend” in the name of Jesus. Give me the real. I want the real with you.”
What if instead of speculating, or daydreaming we prayed. Think about that. Crazy right?!
We have to engage people. The most sure way to not be awkward around someone is actually engage them. We need to get out of our head and into the real. This is one of the keys to mental health and it is a absolute necessity if we are to avoid the trap of isolation.
When do you go into your own head? Does your “pretend” honor God? Do you have anyone in your life who snaps you back to reality?
I am so thankful you are addressing these tough issues! You make me really think! Thank you for allowing God to use your singleness to bring such great glory to Him!
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Once again you’ve described things I’ve felt and thought but didn’t have the courage to articulate for fear I was the only one. I think one reason we dwell in the great pretend is because it serves as a “safer” alternative to the lack of connections and intimacy that comes with singleness. It is easy to justify that as long as we are in the ” fake it til you make it” mindset then at least we aren’t engaging in more overtly sinful ways of filling the void. It becomes easy to rationalize as the lesser of two evils. But I’ve also found a certain degree of numbness happens. When I was in my 20s, the longing for someone to connect with was fraught with raw, painful emotions. Now I find in my mid 30s that I often choose numbness (whether by pretending or escaping thru TV, etc.) over dealing with reality as is because I’ve grown weary wrestling.
Please continue to write your honest, non-cliche perspective. There’s very little of it out there.You are being heard and appreciated.
Thanks for the encouragement Rebecca. I think you make a good point with the “safer” statement. But it isn’t safer – just safer by the worlds standards. I think it makes us less alive – and that is no good. Thanks again for your words.
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