Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2)
Fantasies work like freezing rain. When raindrops that are below freezing temperature touch another surface they instantly crystallize. They might hit a vehicle, a roadway, a tree, or a speck of dust. Whatever the object is, it acts as a molecular framework for ice to form. Contact triggers freezing. The results are dramatic, alluringly beautiful, but often destructive.
Fantasies are a form of idolatry. They can form in the area of careers and ministry. Our vision for the work we are engaged in can become a fantasy pumped up in our minds to appear better than it really is. But relationships are subject to the most powerful fantasies. We may be almost unaware of our unsatisfied desires, unresolved hurts, unrequited love, emptiness and boredom. Then one day we encounter someone who is a good enough fit to trigger a fantasy, just like that speck of dust at the center of an ice crystal. We begin to see the person as our ideal companion. Everything seems to fit into place when we think about them.
The fantasy can grow in the absence of the person or alongside an actual relationship with that person. However, the fantasy will grow faster than any real relationship and develop a life of its own. Fantasies obey our imaginations; in real relationships people make their own choices. Healthy relationships depend on a measure of agreement in the choices made and require some give-and-take where agreement does not come naturally. Pure fantasies, involving little or no genuine relationship, are a wasteful distraction. Two people whose relationship has become infected by fantasy in one or both of them are in the saddest position. Because fantasies are so pleasantly satisfying, the temptation to promote and guard the fantasy at the expense of real relationship is huge. Instead of frankness there is a hesitation to speak the truth for fear that it might melt the imagined relationship and damage its supposed beauty. Complex co-dependencies form as two people tiptoe around the reality of who they each are, unable to embrace a meaningful relationship. Such arrangements can persist for years. The only healthy remedy is reality—get to know the real person and, in turn, be known for who you really are.
Fantasies often end badly. As they crash into hard realities they shatter. Disillusionment is powerful when someone realizes that the person they took to be the embodiment of their dreams does not, in fact, comply with their shopping list of cravings.
Ministry, careers, possessions, money, loved ones—none of them can truly satisfy our deepest needs. Wherever our fantasy forms, health and freedom come when we recognize two things. First, the person or the work we are engaged in is not the cause of the fantasy. We must not blame them; we need to deal with ourselves. Second, the fantasy forms from the concentration of unmet needs within us. The only true satisfaction of those unmet needs is in God.
When we experience God healing our inner hurts and quenching our most intense thirsts then we are poised to be a giver. Instead of chasing life goals and relationships for our own sakes, we become servants and warriors. We gain an inner peace that frees us to be channels of God’s love. We have a resilience to endure hardship, overcome obstacles, and resolve conflict.
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