“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” Simone Weil, French philosopher and social activist who suffered throughout her life from poor physical health
Have you ever heard people say that Hell will be more interesting than Heaven? What they mean is Hell will be all rock ‘n roll and unlimited fun and Heaven will be full of church pews, self righteousness and doing your duty.
But when you really think about it – is unlimited, no holds barred, do anything you want, whenever you want living – really all that great? I tried it for about 6 years and I would have to say no. Imaginary Hell raising is so much more fun than the real thing. Like any temptation or seduction; it looks good but leaves a terrible after taste. It doesn’t matter how much you want to leave it all behind, escape from reality, run away – you still end up picking up the pieces. Maybe not today, but sometime and for the rest of your life.
We can all be prone to wanting to escape. Our escape routes can take different forms: one day my prince will come, I need a glass of wine, that house and everything will be better, if only I had married/not married, just one more [name your thing] and I will be happy. Things that call to us ‘come over here, it’s so much better over here.’
The question is: what are we trying to escape from? The monotony of the same day lived over and over again? Really bad memories? Fear? Self loathing? Hopelessness? A whole list of if-onlys? Overwhelming responsibilities?
The deeper question is: where will our escape route lead? Are we going to find real answers there, or just add to the problems we already have.
What if instead of running, we turn to face what we are so hoping to leave behind. Look to make peace with where we are and who we are today.
Acceptance instead of defiance
Peace instead of fighting
Prayer instead of self help
Trust instead of doubt
Real good is so much more than just trying to do the right thing, so much more than looking like you have it all together. In fact, Jesus spent much of His time imploring people not to be like that. He knew the difference between imaginary good (us pretending) and real good (us believing).
Real good only comes when we finally admit where we are and who we are. Not perfect, not invincible, not almighty. Real good only comes from the place where it all starts and ends:
‘You may not know me, but I know everything about you.’ Psalm 139:1, ‘I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me.’ John 8:41-44, ‘I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love.’ 1 John 4:16, ‘My plans for your future has always been filled with hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11, ‘Because I love you with an everlasting love.’ Jeremiah 31:3
Maybe rather than looking for an escape route that turns out to be a rabbit hole, we can decide to stay put and have a good look around for real answers. Real good starts and ends right here.
He believes in you.