in the third HG (no spoilers here, don't worry), a character has been severely brainwashed. his mind is so maimed, he can't remember what's illusion or reality, real or made up. everything is up in the air, anything could be truth, which develops in him hatred and fear. it's a harrowing, hopeless way to live.
so his friends devise a game. Real or Not Real.
he says a statement - "the fire was my fault" - and his friends say either "real" or "not real," and they offer an explanation to go along with it - "not real. someone else started that fire. you actually saved a lot of people in that fire." and slowly, with the help of his friends, he reconstructs truth and wades through what isn't real.
at first, Real or Not Real is a hard and confusing game.
i'm saved by grace? real.
there's nothing i can do? real.
i've got to work hard to earn love? not real.
this has all been a waste? not real.
i've been set free for freedom? real.
God is always good and I am always loved? real.
it's community and Scripture that whisper and scream when the not reals hit hard. in a moment of pain and surrender and discouragement, when it's just coming at you and piling on and you're feeling overwhelmed, BUT WHAT IS REAL? which one is the voice of God? what do i have to pull me up when all of this feels like it's going to take me under?
it's the very essence of taking thoughts captive. the very essence of writing words on your heart, cementing them on your mind. so when the dark days come, you will be ready.
but here's the really good news.
Real or Not Real actually gets easier.
the more you ask for help and the more you memorize truth, the more it becomes rooted and the faster you can squash what is rearing to disrupt. because playing Real or Not Real and taking thoughts captive and filtering lies - it produces a great faith.
there were days when i just didn't know. i didn't know what it meant that i didn't have to have things figured out before i came before God. i didn't know that God wastes nothing. i didn't believe - really - that God is always good and i am always loved. i didn't know Fear didn't have to own me anymore. sadness would hit and i wouldn't firmly know what was real. it was exhausting to beat back the not reals, especially when i didn't know which ones they were.
and so i wrote. i asked for help. i searched Scripture day and night. i prayed the only way i knew how. my mind felt maimed and i needed to reconstruct it with solid reals. it's a sloooow process, because you're emptying out your mind of things that don't belong and you're filling it with things Above. with things of hope and joy, love and peace and freedom. it's gradual.
but one day, maybe in the midst of a fear or anxiety or sadness or darkness,
it'll hit you.
wait. i actually know what's real.
in the middle of the lie YOU CAN'T DO THIS, you'll know that's not true. you'll know that you're confident and worthy and able, that the light within you shines brighter than the darkness. you'll know, you'll BELIEVE, that God has led you here for such a time as this and that you've been uniquely positioned by a Good Father for just exactly this.
and you'll realize that all that beating back of fear for all those months and months and all the Real or Not Real actually produced in you the sound mind you've always been created with. you might actually laugh out loud at what the enemy was trying to get you to consider to be real. and you'll scream loud GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD AND I AM ALWAYS LOVED and you'll be brave and bold to believe it.
wait. i actually know that to be true.
it is not real that you have to cower.
it is not real that your pain is for naught.
it is not real that God wastes suffering.
it is not real that He is oblivious or disconnected or uncaring.
it is real that the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.
it is real that He has equipped you confidently and ably.
it is real that you are loved with an everlasting love.
it is real that hope is oxygen and it has the name of Jesus.
go forward, friend, and be rooted in reals.