Denial is NOT a river in Egypt. Denial is a refusal to admit the truth or reality. We all live in this glorious place in some area of our lives. It’s a necessary evil, a coping mechanism at best. You may be intrigued to know as humans we are wired naturally to avoid pain. From the outside looking in you may think we are a pleasure-seeking society, we are. However, most of our behaviors flow from a place inside of us that just don’t want to feel pain.
We eat because we don’t like that hungry feeling. We workout because we don’t like that ugly reflection in the mirror or that feeling that our pants are too tight. We shop too much because we don’t want to appear unattractive or off-trend. We work too much because we don’t want to be broke or appear unsuccessful. We don’t get quiet or stop being so busy because we may have to really face who or what we’ve become or what we’ve done to others.
Denial has become our friend.
At a deeper level, we don’t talk about our feelings or what’s really wrong because it’s uncomfortable. It hurts to admit we’re wrong. It hurts to face that it may be our choices that caused a problem. It hurts to accept blame or grieve the losses or just plain admit that the way we’ve been doing things just isn’t working anymore.
I have a friend who used to say to me, “When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will do something.” That used to frustrate the hell out of me. What did that even mean? But she was right. Pain has a way of unrelenting in our life, and the pain kept screaming out to me until one day I had to listen. Don’t avoid it. Listen. It’s there to tell you something needs attention. Pain is an integral part of life. If you think you will skate through life without pain, you are not living, you’re denying.
Stop for a moment and inventory the people in your life that you know have faced great adversity. Those that have faced it head-on are some of the deepest, most joyful, quality people you know. They are people who are understanding, quick to forgive, show the most grace and are willing to be the most vulnerable.
If you acknowledge what’s wrong, what’s painful and face it head on it will produce fruit in your life. Thus the old adage, ‘If nothing changes, nothing changes’.
The last time you needed advice, did you seek out someone who’s life seemed perfect? Did you ask for wisdom from someone who has never dealt with great pain or adversity? I didn’t. The people who live in la-la land have nothing to offer but opinions. The perfect people seem to be the most judgemental. They sit in these high places and have never been broken, how can they relate to your brokenness? It is not their perfect lives that keep them there, but their state of denial.
The funny thing is we would never live in denial to the fact that our checking account is empty or that there’s no food in the fridge. We can’t deny that our kids are struggling in school or that the trash can is overflowing and needs to be taken out. But in matters of the heart we live in this secret paradise of denial…. or is it really hell?
Denial is the opposite of awareness. Amazing things can happen in your life and your relationships when you become conscious.
What do you need to wake up to? If you get still in the car, no radio, or in the shower alone with your thoughts what pain are you denying? It’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know. But there is a Higher Power you can ask for wisdom. And the truth is, He gives freely to all those who ask. Start with this simple question: What am I refusing to see God, that would make my life better? Maybe you don’t have a Higher Power that you trust. Ask someone you trust who is safe and God can speak through them.
I would posture that the quality of your life and relationships can only deepen when you are willing to ask that hard question, look denial in the face, be willing to embrace the pain of reality and deal.