Living Behind Glass Walls
How many times do we make plans that we feel are solid enough to ensure our security only to have our reality shattered when things don't go our way? And it is not very often that our plans go...well, according to plan. I think the world is made up of a majority of planners, or maybe worriers is the more relevant term. Worriers who try to suffice their worries by planning all of the details! People come up with five year plans and then plans for those plans and don't forget the plans that are made in case those plans become insufficient. There's nothing wrong with planning but when making plans turns into an obsessive need to control, you may need to have your reality shattered. This extent to which you desire to have control can even be revealed through the conversations that you have with God.
The Glass Menagerie
In High School, I remember reading certain pieces of literature that really stuck out me. One piece was the play The Glass Menagerie. This story is about this little girl with some sort of ailment who withdraws from the world. As a result, she creates her own world through her collection of glass animal figurines. I remember my teacher asking what it meant when her frail collection eventually breaks, and he revealed that it represented her reality shattering. I thought that sounded horrible—to place the entirety of your life in something so simple and to have even that taken away from you. But in reality, we all do this.
Through further research, I found that it was more likely that the little girl had isolated herself from the world rather than the world ostracizing her. She chose to see the world through her ailment instead of seeing the truth that the world had been open to her the entire time. Towards the end of the book, her comments reveal that she is noticing that there is more to life than the collection that she had once held dear. She is possibly able to accept that the shattering of her collection is not only a form of loosing the reality she once believed to be true but the taking on of a new reality that was always present, but invisible until now.
Our Relationship with God
From the time we are young, we are constantly trying to make sense of the world we live in. We all hold certain beliefs that we believe are absolutely true and we think no-one can dissuade us from believing them. We all hold "wonderings" that are not as secure as our beliefs and we're willing to be a bit more open-minded about. And then we have those thoughts that we don't allow to get too close to our hearts because we fear that they're too mysterious for us to make a sound conclusion based off of them. Many times when we meet God, we have already created our own realities. Most are probably based on experiences. When we first come to God, it's usually because of a drawing to get to know God more. But as time goes on, and we allow our diligence to fade, our natural tendency is to try to get to know God through our "glass menagerie." If we don't allow that glass barrier to break, there will be a constant tension between the desire to get to know God on a deeper and raw level and the desire to keep our current reality from shattering. It makes logical sense to trust God for those unknown facts about the world because if they're unknown, than it would seem foolish on our part to say that we do, in fact, have a good grasp on them. Even those beliefs that we half hold onto can be easy to give over to God if we are open to His way of thinking. But what about those beliefs that we hold so soundly? That we've always held close to our hearts? Whether it's out of unchanging negative experiences that have left you thinking, "It's always been this way so it's always going to be this way?" Or whether it's out of something that is neither good nor bad but it's facts have served as a comfort in your life?
We typically go to God from the perspective that our realities (way of thinking/seeing) are the only correct way of seeing things. We blame God or we praise God based on our realities. But something we typically don't do and should do more often is talk to God about His reality. When we go to God from our natural perspective, we go to Him with the facts, or what we can physically see. When we talk to God first, we come away with the truth, no matter how contradictory it looks from our own situation. When you kneel before God based on the unchanging truth that He is good all of the time, some of your factual realities will begin to dissipate in the presence of His love.
My Own Experience
When I entered into middle school, I started to feel as though I was different from everyone else. I know that's vague but I can't really describe the feeling other than I felt as though I was the only one. It wasn't in the sense that I was unique and special but rather in the sense that no one will be able to understand or even like me. Because of that, I became very silent in school. I could typically count on one hand the number of times that I had talked to someone throughout the day. Also because of this victim mentality, I isolated myself, much like Laura in The Glass Menagerie. She believed that her ailment would isolate her from society and so she isolated herself before society would even have a chance to.
There would be small glimmers of hope here and there that I would come out of depression. But by the time I had entered High School, my hope had vanished. My false sense of reality conveyed that this was something I was born with and something that would last the entirety of my life. Thankfully, I was fully open to the reality that God had something good in store for me, even if it meant allowing my reality to fall to the ground.
I remember going to church one Sunday and hearing the pastor talk about how God has given us control over our emotions. I went away in tears, offended that I had just been accused of being blamed for my own emotions. Even through unwarranted offence on my part, I went home that night and prayed a prayer that would change my life. I thanked God that my days would be joyful. That's all I spoke. The very next day, my reality slowly began to change. It was a process for my entire way of thinking to change but through the shattering of one set, another one was given to me. Sometimes I think that we view God putting our broken hearts back together instead of seeing that He has given us a new one altogether. Ezekial 36:26 says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." It's not that God is unable to thread together a broken heart- He just does it in a way that is contrary to the popular way of thinking. A heart made of stone can easily be shattered whereas a heart of flesh cannot. When we begin to act in our old way of thinking, it hurts even more when we come to God and ask Him to then change our realities. If we act out of our newly softened hearts, however, it may still be uncomfortable to have our ways of thinking stretched but our realities will not need to be completely obliterated because our thoughts will more closely line up to His. We already have the thoughts of Christ within us if we have received His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16).