Real or unreal?

I found myself thinking it was unreal… Here it was February 23rd and I was walking outside in my shirt sleeves with the temperature nearing 70. But how much more real could it have been? It was February! And it was 70 and I was outside in my shirt sleeves!  So what was I really thinking?  What was a I reacting to?

I was reacting to my internal sense of how things ought to be. And since I expect February to be cold and snowy what was happening around me did not feel or seem real. What was actual and real seemed unreal and the fantasy expectation in my mind seemed more real.

If that is true of the weather what other reality in my life and thinking is skewed by my sense of what ought to be rather than what is?

We spend so much time as humans fighting what is – trying to get our life to resemble what we picture in our minds. And if I hear it from others correctly and as I have experienced it in my own life we never win trying to get the life we actually live to resemble our mental expectations.  We do not usually meet our own expectations of who we become and what we will do in our life. Our careers are what they are, and most often not the upward trajectory to being whatever in our view is “emperor of the universe” we forsee as children.  Our children grow up into the persons they truly are,  not the image we have of them at birth and in childhood.  We get satisfaction from things we did not expect and find little where we expected to find it.

One favor we can do ourselves and others is to turn down the volume on our internal shoulds and oughts for others and for ourselves. We need to deal with the world as it is – and revel in life and the world as it is. And not worry about what we had expected it would be.

One of my favorite prayers is attributed to Pastor Friedrich Christoph in 1782. The first portion is familiar enough but many do not realize there is more…

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference –

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking as He did this sinful world as it is and not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

Don

About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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