Issues with Reality

I have two granddaughters: an intelligent and beautiful five-year-old with lovely brown tresses and her adorable and spunky, red-haired sister, who is two. I refer to them respectively as Sparkle and Twinkle because they are bright spots in my world, my little Stars.

Yesterday the two girls were at my house for a few hours. Twinkle (the two-year-old) and I were playing with a purple, glittery, stuffed dolphin. With our help, the dolphin leapt from chair arm to chair arm as he sang and danced and entertained both of us. Sparkle (the five-year-old) was doing her own thing with a pink and white stuffed dog.

At one point in our play Sparkle looked critically at the dolphin show Twinkle and I were enjoying and announced, “Dolphins can’t really do those things, Grandma.”

“I know,” I replied, “but your sister and I are pretending and when you are pretending, dolphins can do anything.”

“But I don’t like the way you are playing!” she stubbornly insisted. “Stop it!”

“No, Sparkle,” I replied. “You do not get to tell your sister and me how to play.”   At that, Sparkle’s face clouded over and she ran from the room.

Sparkle had just experienced a momentary issue with reality. Grandma and Twinkle could indeed play however they wanted to play and she could not intervene. Her power and control did not extend to dictating how her sister and her grandmother played, and she bristled against accepting that fact. In fairness to her, she recovered from her little snit quickly. She came back into the room carrying a Dora the Explorer jigsaw puzzle, which she happily assembled as if she had never experienced the momentary annoyance.

I, too, often want to push back against reality. Everywhere I look I encounter miserable situations over which I have absolutely no control, and I bristle against accepting my lack of power. As I write this, Christians around the world are suffering persecution and literally being put to the sword. Close friends are coping with dire sicknesses and injuries and the loss of the people they love most. I am heartsick.

The fact is that short of begging God’s mercy on these people and doing whatever small things I can think of to try to help them, I am useless. My power and control do not extend to remedying the suffering and injustices of this world.

When accepting my limitations becomes a problem for me, I sometimes choose to indulge in my own version of Sparkle’s little snit. Like her, I look for relief from the pain of facing an unpleasant reality. If I am not careful, though, in my search for comfort, I default to an unhealthy way of coping with my disappointment. I dig into half gallons of ice cream or indulge in long naps of escape or zone out in endless games of Spider Solitaire on the computer. I run from one problem area in my life, accepting limitations, to another: abusing food, abusing sleep, or abusing the mind-numbing pseudo-relief of computer games.

The next time I have an issue with reality, I hope I’ll choose a less destructive and more healing therapy. Maybe I’ll take a prayer walk or soak in a hot bath while listening to Christian music. Maybe I will simply work a Dora the Explorer jigsaw puzzle.

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