Here lately...I have become aware of how many people are in denial. I'm not talking specifically about the people who are on reality shows...because that goes without saying. I mean those of us who are living our lives and are surrounded by the perpetually clueless.
I see women in their 40's having surgery and wearing clothes that look more appropriate on college girls. They have bought the lie that one can remain young looking indefinitely instead of realizing that at some point it looks ridiculous. I see college girls hanging out of the top of or falling out of the bottom of clothes that would look fine if they were just twice the size. These same girls are, of course, also wondering why they can't meet a young man who can't see beyond what they are not wearing instead of taking responsibility their fashion choices.
The combover is a very sad expression of refusal to let hair follicles rest in peace...as much so as the hairstyles from days of yore that some people insist on sporting year in and year out...for decades.
The same is true of those pesky "elephants in the living room"...and pretending that issues like weight gain, eyesight changes or memory loss are not really issues at all. Of trying to ignore someone's addictions, lifestyle or erratic behavior and act as if everything is copacetic...or worse...enabling it. Failing to recognize that mergers at work mean that we aren't in Kansas anymore and that we are going to have to make some adjustments or we'll be swept away bitter and spitting into the winds of change. Sometimes it is just seeing life as it has always been instead of how it actually is...and failing to see that there were windows opened when doors were closed...or that the cell that we thought imprisoned us was never locked...we just thought that it was.
Sad to me are people who give their children everything and then are repaid with a total rejection of their values. Even more sad is when they continue to act as if nothing has changed. They fund the educations or the support of the children well beyond a logical age instead of just pushing them out of the nest and letting them figure it out on their own.
Oh, I don't mean to sound all mean-spirited and judgmental. Lord knows that there is enough of that in this world. It is just that sometimes we live our lives treating the symptoms instead of addressing the problem.
The problem is fear.
Rooted in denial is the fear that we aren't enough or that we won't be able to handle change. That if we act as if everything is okay or the way it always has been...that it will be. We believe that our positive thinking will make what is in our minds match our reality instead of the reverse. We don't like being confrontational...so we overlook minor infractions. Ignoring those means that we begin to resent the fact that we cannot express ourselves. Resentment turns into exasperation...which eventually turns into rejection. Yet we deny why it is that some people annoy us...when the answer is that we have allowed them to hold us hostage because we have been friends forever or by accident of birth or experience.
If we are still drawing breath...we are also getting older every day. Our bodies change, and our inner beings sometimes take awhile to figure this out...in spite of our aches and pains. Many of us only see the person who faced us in the mirror at an earlier point in time, and we live that reality. Or perhaps the fear is the rejection of our friends and family if our children do not follow a conventional path. Or have simply learned from being honest and not having it received well that we need to allow the 800 pound gorilla to sit wherever he wants to sit...even if it crushes our spirit in the process.
But why the fear? It seems so senseless.
Growing older means that we have also - hopefully - also grown wiser. Our experiences may have shaped us...but they have also softened, sharpened, and solidified us. God has been busy molding us through our pain, our shortcomings, and our failures. We haven't wanted to dwell on those...preferring to remember only the highlights of our lives. Highlights are wonderful...but we have to be honest that who we are today was also crafted in the valleys...and sometimes primarily so.
So when I see someone who has a disconnect from who they are and who they think they are...I will say a little prayer for them instead of shooting a look of disapproval. If I am close enough to them to comment, I'll pray that God will give me both tact and an opportunity to be honest if I am asked. I will try to remember that in viewing the circle of life I've seen both the frail become strong and the strong become frail. It requires patience as people come to grips with their limitations. We don't expect a toddler to balance a checkbook...we barely expect a 20-something to be able to...yet we must also understand that taking the keys from Grandma also sometimes has to be done...for everyone's sake.
Well, living in denial is sometimes comforting...but it almost always involves an ugly collision with reality at some point. I can only hope that I am surrounded with people who love me enough to be honest...but who also know me well enough to understand how much honesty I can manage. I believe that I see the world as it is...but I do admit...it certainly is easier to pretend that I don't...