I remember back when I was a teenager and just starting to like the idea of dating. I can remember working up the nerve to call a girl or to ask her out in person. I was not confident in this area. What I would do of course made it worse. I would speculate in my head over and over again about how the conversation would go. Then after a couple of almost dials, I’d let if fly. You know what never happened one single time? It never went the way I made it up in my head. Never. Not once.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my head and what I’ve named “the pretend“. It started when I was a kid as imagination. And there is nothing wrong with imagination. But as we grow older we have to move into something very important. We have to live in the real.
Here’s the thing, the key to health in anything, be it business, ministry or our personal life is to define the reality and then deal with it. It’s one of the key’s to mental and emotional health.
But there are all sorts of ways to avoid reality. We can choose to hide. We can do this by “escaping”. We might escape to fantasy, video games, alcohol, drugs, porn, comics, you name it. Or we might just spend all of our time alone, consciously or subconsciously avoiding real community. Some of us have more conversations with people in our heads than actual conversations with people.
I remember this man I knew who was always mumbling. What I realized later was that he was carrying on a conversation in his head. If you saw it on the street you would think that guy was crazy. But if we do it all the time in our head silently are we crazy?
It’s not healthy. The worst thing about this “pretend world” is that it strains our minds. And I remind you that it is absolutely not real.
As a single person in today’s world living in our own head is a real trap. Married people can fall into it as well to be sure, but when half of unmarried people live alone there is often no one around to physically engage. Many of our jobs have us working basically alone. We drive in our car alone. We go home alone. We eat alone. Go to bed alone, wake up alone and do it again.
There’s a reason that in prison the worst place to be is solitary confinement. Even if we are called to celibacy, we are not called to that.
I struggled with this immensely at different times in my life. I would have conversations with people in my mind over and over again. This was especially true when I was mad, or when I if I need to have a conversation with a girl I liked. I would turn the conversation over and over again in my mind. This sort of process is unhealthy. It took me more into my own head, more isolation and frankly a lot more stress. The reality is, from a practical standpoint, never one time did a conversation go the way I thought it would. Not One Time.
I remember when God started showing me it was wrong. I can still remember the first time I prayed against it. I was driving and getting onto a highway and I literally just prayed, “God, clear my head. Help me to live only in the real, no pretend.” I kid you not it was like BOOM and there was silence . . . and peace. After that, God began to walk me out of it.
We have to submit our minds, imaginations and speculations to God. It’s a fight but I’m telling you it’s worth it. We need to engage God and we need to engage others. We need to shut off the computer, the ipod, the car radio, all of it, and engage the real. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to ever day dream or use our imagination. But just like the rest of our life, it needs to be submitted to Him, and the incessant analyzing, conjuring, and practice conversations that won’t happen are not a part of that. We need to take every thought captive.
The more we let the pretend (in all it’s forms) run rampant, the more it will wear us down and isolate us. This is bad for our work, play, ministry and dating life. You will not be who you need to be in any of those areas if you don’t pull this area under control.
So how do we fight this. Here are some practical things:
- Pray – this seems so basic, but I mean this in two ways.
- Pray against this specifically. Submit your imagination and speculation to the Lord. Ask Him to fill your mind with peace
- Pray about the things that you are over thinking. Instead of speculating and imagining things, lift them up. Don’t practice the conversation, pray about it.
- Instead of practicing the conversation or confrontation, write down the main things you want to make sure get said and then move beyond it
- For me, I needed to turn off the fast music when I drove. Anything that sends you into the pretend, turn it off. I actually do better with talk radio – because I have to engage and listen.
- If you work alone, go to where you have to interact with people.
- Have people in your life. You must have community and people to engage with. Everywhere
- I would encourage you to not live alone. I know some people love it. I think it’s dangerous on many levels.
Do you have more conversations with real people or in your head? When do you fall into the pretend? What thoughts are not submitted to God?