I'm a fickle, self-indulgent being. I've been attempting to slowly put the pieces back together ever since losing a playoff game in my 5th consecutive season of Madden 17. Do I realize that a game doesn't matter at all? You betcha. Has it still lulled my spirits ever since throwing that final interception to continue my losing streak? Oh for sure. You see, this is America, where the constant battle exists between what is real, and what isn't. The lines are constantly blurred, and I'm consistently a victim. For every time that I'm "above" something like the 17th season of The Bachelor, I'm falling victim to investing in plenty of other things that literally don't matter at all.
The confusion of what actually matters and what doesn't is embedded in our culture. It almost is our culture. Have you gone to the American history museum? Have you seen Elvis Presley's belt sitting there in the glass showcase? I understand that entertainment has a place, but I feel like entertainment has become our national illusion, robbing us of what actually matters.
Now before you think I'm about to ask for an extreme call to action from you- rest assured, I am not an extreme person. I mean, My wife has wanted to throw our TV away, and my video games with it. I just have always been turned off to extremism, whether it be the internal need to prove a point, or the simple drama of it all- I just would rather exercise healthy time management than go to such lengths. So this isn't about not listening to "hedonistic" music, or turning off your TV forever and reading books instead.
What I'm really wanting to say is that I just suck at this lifestyle. I don't thrive in it, I have very few friends, I have very little motivation. For the most part, I see through all of this crap, and I know it is fake and doesn't matter. But then, I shut down instead of being a shaker in this culture. You know, I've seen what I would consider "real". I've seen hungry children in other cultures, not blind to the bubblegum "realities" that we face in our country. I know what it looks like to do something real, and to have real experiences. If I were to tell you what I was passionate about, I would say "being authentic and having real interactions with people"- but have I done that hardly in the past year?- Nope. I've become a docile goon. I think part of it is because I would rather sell everything I own and live with a backpack on my back as a nomad. I mean that would make it so eaassyyy to not be distracted. Well this isn't easy. A backpack is unfortunately not my reality, it just becomes ANOTHER illusion distracting me from the present tense.
Back to our culture- I just asked Kathryn yesterday, if a person who has been living in a slum all their life, playing with toys as a child that other children would have considered garbage, spending their time surviving, heard an average conversation taken place by any two American people....Would they understand a word of it? Would they understand it at all? Embedded in our culture are these type of surface level interactions. We clutter or exhaust our atmosphere with these temporary things that never had value, and that were simply created to tickle our fancies. So often we go to these things to cope with what actually is reality; our struggles. How easy is it, when you are having a bad day because something real actually happened in your life... to take the plunge into anti-reality and spend the rest of the day on Netflix with ice cream?
When you travel, you escape this bubble of "reality". You are usually cut from media, or "first world problems". This opens the door to give you the opportunity to experience what is actually real. It is a liberating place to be. But even traveling can be a mirage of reality, if we just dream of skipping from continent to continent without investing in anyone particularly. I mean if you believe in what I do, this world isn't going to last forever, and the next world is going to be even more beautiful than this one, so do you really want to spend your whole life running? And besides, if I can only find "reality" in one thing like travel, then I really need to find "reality" in other places now don't I? Reality is always found outside of ourselves and our selfish ambitions. Mad respect for the people who know how to "America" well. Who live a life of abandon, who seek God daily amidst the haze of American pop-culture, and who can break through surface level conversations and foster depth. In my office, I mostly hear about pop culture, car problems, restaurants. Now, I completely understand...we are co-workers, not best friends. But when you spend over 2,000 hours a year with these people, isn't it a shame that is as far as the depth goes?
To break it down, a day of mine can easily look like: Getting up, scrolling on the Facebook timeline or Google news. I play video games a little to wake up, eat breakfast, going to work which I'm not extremely passionate about. If i'm working outside, I'm driving around watching many people live their hustle and bustle lives, usually driving very aggressive as they are in such a hurry to get wherever they are going in their own private vehicles, with their coffees in their hand. If i'm in the office, I am making maps and browsing on Google news, and sports sites, or dreaming of traveling. I go home and am dead exhausted from spending most of my day doing whatever, I spend time with the wife, maybe watch a show or something, and am about to be ready for bed unless we really venture outside of the box and go out for a drink or something. This is what 5 days of the week can look like. This is what the Grind can easily turn into consistently if we aren't extremely intentional.
Most of us have probably read Matthew 19:24:
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
I sometimes feel like our culture as a whole is the epitome of the rich man. We all know that God isn't saying you can't have a lot of money to enter into the kingdom of God, He isn't making a rule against wealth. He is just saying how hard it is to enter into the great provisions God has for us with so many distractions. This worries me because I feel our culture is just one BIG distraction! It is a constant fight!
I write this to tell you that I will begin to fight for what is real and fight through what isn't. I feel as though I can see a "lie" that is sitting right in front of me, that sometimes I let linger and exist, but in this moment I know it is a lie and I know it needs to die. I want to seek out authenticity in this life by seeking advances in my relationship with God. Kathryn will tell you that she believes the number one reason for existence is to know, love, and be loved by God. It is that simple. Everything else will come naturally. Historically, I would always have said it is to know, love, and be loved by God, AND to love people. Too often though have I found my identity from that second part- loving other people. In this past year, most of those people have been taken away from my life, and now here I am with this crisis. With this fight for meaning. I've let this lie linger around for too long.
From now on, I'm fighting for real things... will you join me?