Have you ever held up your hand and cut someone off mid-sentence when they were about to lay some heavy information on you and said “Stop! I don’t want to know!” ? Or refused to click on an article or read a book or answer the phone or a text or open your mail or have a conversation or even turn on the TV because you were afraid to learn information you’d rather avoid? “Face the facts!” “No!” I would think we could all answer “yes” to those questions, at least occasionally. Here are some steps that can help you be more courageous in dealing with the struggles of life.
The Burden of Knowing
But why do we do that? Why do we avoid facing the facts, learning the truth, being informed? It’s easy to see that we do it to avoid the feelings and thoughts that will be brought on by information that impacts our blissful ignorance. Knowing things puts a certain burden on you to react to that information. You can choose to do something or not, but you will still know in your heart. If someone tells you they are cheating on their spouse, for example, now you are burdened with that information. If you step on the scale and see a bigger number than before, you have to decide what to do about that information. Information and knowledge is a burden. Humans are experts at finding ways to escape from that burden, namely in various addictions that make us feel better so we can forget about the problem we don’t want to deal with. Social media, porn, drugs, alcohol, exercise, food, shopping, being angry, sex, watching videos, playing video games, staying constantly busy, and numerous other activities can help us avoid facing reality.
Use Data as a Tool
This came to my mind today as I was contemplating the data that my running watch provides me related to my fitness. This watch and the app are quite sophisticated and, when used correctly, can be a very helpful tool in improving fitness and performance. My friend bought me a heart rate monitor , she’s so awesome, so now I have even more data to play with. But this places a new burden on me to accept the data and use it and make changes accordingly. Before I had the data, I could just tell myself what I ‘thought’ I was doing in my runs. But now, I have hard numbers, facts, graphs, zones, progress charts, all for me to critically evaluate not only how hard I am working, but if I am working in productive ways towards my goals. This is a good thing, but as they say, ignorance is bliss. I can learn to find new bliss if I am willing to put in the work. Or , I can ignore the data as unimportant, and continue on my merry way, all the while knowing in my heart that I may not reach my goals unless I utilize the data.
Face your Problems with Courage
But running is just one example of being afraid to know the truth. There are much more important situations, such as lying to yourself about your motivations, pretending you’re not addicted to something, or turning a blind eye to your child’s downward trend in behavior, or ignoring letters from collection agencies, or not going to the doctor about your health problems ( I hate to mention that one, because I don’t like going to the doctor, but if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you need to know and make changes) , not keeping an eye on your spending because you don’t want to know how bad it is, ignoring that noise from your car’s brakes, not educating yourself on the important political issues that will affect your life, and most important, ignoring that little prompting from God/the Holy Spirit.
God wants to Talk to You
God will try to get you to pay attention to Him in various ways when you are trying to avoid him. He may have someone pop up in your life with a phone call or text that should lead you to turn to Him, or he may put the same verse in your line of sight multiple times, or he may let you get sick, lose your job, lose a friend, or get arrested if you are really off the path. A constant feeling of anxiety could be simply that you are avoiding God. Eventually you will be unable to ignore God’s voice because your life will get so stressful, but it’s much better to fearlessly, faithfully stop and listen to Him immediately! Facing God should not be scary , because he loves us, but when we are sinning by living as if He is not our God, we will know it and feel guilt in our soul. We will be like Jonah, running off to avoid what we know we should do and not wanting to hear the truth. We were given the example of Jonah’s mistake as a lesson.
Truth is Truth
What should we do? Lots of things. Like eat healthy, exercise, be kind, pray, stay within our budgets, discipline and nurture our children, work hard, be honest, be generous, don’t be selfish, don’t be lazy, don’t try to escape our responsibilities, and overall, trust God to help us do all that. That’s a tough list and it barely scratches the surface of our constant struggle to do the right thing. We get in trouble when we try to do it on our own power and then we give up and try to run away and escape into our addictions. In today’s culture, God has been so thoroughly rejected that people are becoming literally deranged, believing in fantasies and accepting ideas and policies that will only compound their problems; refusing to accept even the idea that there is such a thing as truth. This is not a new thing, it has been a recurring theme in history. But when even professing Christians no longer believe the Bible is the word of God, we are in trouble. Or maybe it’s a good thing and we are getting closer to Jesus’ returning. But for now we must deal with the negative effects of people refusing to accept the existence of absolute truth, human nature and natural laws. People are so confused and so afraid of being destroyed with a socially-damning label that they are refusing to even take a public stance on small things. If you haven’t been refusing to keep up with the news, then you are aware of social media attacks as well as actual violence against people who some other people think are wrong for standing up for their beliefs. Evidently ‘having beliefs’ is wrong if they are different from your ‘belief’ that there is ‘no truth’. It’s quite insane.
You got this!
In conclusion, be brave. Don’t beat yourself up for the past. Think about the present as a new beginning. The first step is admitting that you have been avoiding the truth and acknowledging that you are only making things worse for yourself and probably for others, as well. Then figure out what you can do and what you can’t do. You can’t change other people, so scratch that off the list. You have to work on yourself . You could start by scheduling some time in your day to really think ( and pray) about what you have been ignoring. Ask God, “What do you want me to do today?” . Answer that text. Return that call. Schedule that appointment. Read the mail. Watch the news, at least occasionally. Talk to that wayward child. Deal with your relationship problems. Accept that you must and CAN make positive changes! Make a plan, join a support group, talk about your feelings, educate yourself on ways to fix your situation. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture. Focus on completing the first step. And keep praying! Ask God to help you with your issues , one step at a time, without seeing how it can possibly work out, because God can do anything! As the saying goes, I can’t do everything, but what I can do, I must do.