Tool for HeartConnexion® Living
Personal and Spiritual Growth Requires
Seeing Through Our Illusions
“Jesus brought a revolution in the understanding of God. It is impossible to exaggerate the extravagance of the Father’s compassion and love. …To pray to any god other than the Father who finds sheer delight in reconciliation is illusion, cowardice, and superstition.” (p. 45) – A Glimpse of Jesus: the Stranger to Self-Hatred by Brennan Manning
By definition an illusion does not describe reality. It is a way of “not-seeing” that avoids the reality we don’t necessarily want to see. The media bombards us with cultural illusions including: “Everyone can be a real estate millionaire with nothing down.” “If you work hard enough anyone can live the American Dream.” “We can avoid aging.” “You can be instantly happy, you don’t need to wait for anything.” etc. These illusions powerfully sell false hope most when dealing with the realities of life seems too harsh.
We also have personal illusions – positive or negative – about life, including: “I never need anyone to help me.” “I can’t change anything.” “I will be healthy until I get really old.” “If I raise my children right they will not stray from my faith.” All of our illusions are subtle substitutes for a deep and intimate trusting relationship with God. Far too often we have believed in them and asked God to make them true for us, sometimes at the expense of others. Is your faith journey equipping you to handle the realities of life or more of an attempt to draw up more illusions to avoid them?
Spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, journaling, meditation, retreats (particularly silent retreats) all have a primary purpose of helping us strip away illusions so we can face reality in the presence of God. However, trusting that God will help us deal with reality can seem more dangerous than maintaining our old illusions.
John’s Gospel begins chapter 9 with the simply statement Jesus saw a man born blind. The disciples did not have the same point of view. Jesus saw the reality of the situation and the disciples saw a example of an endless theological debate – “who sinned, this man or his parents?” Later in the story, the Pharisees could not see the miracle because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. Their point of view did not allow that healing could happen on the Sabbath. They accused the man and his parents of being sinners since they refused to go along with “not seeing the miracle.”
Jesus ends the story with a powerful declaration. I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind. Some Pharisees overheard him and said, Does that mean you’re calling us blind? Jesus said, If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.
Healthy spirituality is about being open to see reality without illusion. It is about becoming open to an intimate, trusting relationship with God who is present, loving and capable to help us make real-life choices rather than clinging to illusions to avoid our fear of facing reality. The healthy spiritual journey does not lead to protection from reality but the risk of real life faith-adventure and co-creating with God.
Small Group Sharing:
- What is your personal heart-reaction to the quote from Brennan Manning? Is that your image of God?
- How did one of your self-limiting tapes serve as an illusion to keep you from seeing options?
- How has seeing through your old illusions changed your sense of accountability?
- How can we encourage you as you continue to face your reality challenges?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, ©2002 HeartConnexion Ministries