You know when you suddenly become aware of something that up until that moment you had been completely oblivious to? Do you remember how you felt? Or what your reaction was to this new information?
How about when you found out Santa Claus wasn’t real? Or when you look back on those pictures from when you were a kid in the 80’s, (well, at least for me), and see those God-awful outfits that you so proudly put together all by yourself? Or how about when you were offered a great opportunity but realized it would come with a lot of hard work and discipline?
It’s powerful when we become aware of something new, but oftentimes this newfound awareness creates two simultaneous but contrary reactions inside of us.
In my work as a counselor I see this happen all the time. Clients come in for their first meeting passionately expressing how desperate they are to see things change. But as time goes on and they start to gain a new perspective about their situation, I almost always see these two emotions flash across their face…hope and frustration.
It seems strange right? They said how much they wanted to understand what was happening so they could experience change, but ironically when this new awareness is smack-dab in their face it doesn’t produce the reaction they thought. Rather, they discover a handful of other unwelcomed emotions and questions pop up they didn’t anticipate.
We expect for this new awareness to bring instant relief and resolve but instead it ushers in a strong sense of conflict in our hearts. And to make matters worse these competing emotions make us feel like we’re being pulled in opposite directions.
This phenomena can be tied to a few different things, but namely we find that awareness brings exposure…it exposes where we really are in our readiness to change. When we’re in distress and need to see our circumstances change we show so much resolve. But once we’ve gained the awareness necessary to make the desired changes, we suddenly become accountable to the real work that needs to be done.
We all know we can’t un-hear, or un-see things that we’ve heard or seen. Once we see, hear, and know we are responsible–and for many of us that feels like a dirty word. It’s so much easier to choose denial or ignorance because it keeps us comfortable, (even if that comfort is rooted in something very uncomfortable).
The questions we need to start asking ourselves are…what are we really gaining and what are we losing by evading this kind of awareness?
I’m not proposing that awareness is in itself the change, but rather that it makes change possible. Similar to a seed, if planted in the ground, holds all the potential to grow into the plant it’s designed to be. But if we don’t release it into the ground, so to speak, we’ll never experience it’s benefits. Or we could say, if we’re not willing to embrace the uncomfortable exposure that comes with this type of awareness we’ll miss out on more than we think.
I’m realizing that if we’re not willing to embrace awareness we’ll forfeit the freedom we long for.
I get it though, it’s tough for all of us to come out of hiding and basically say, “yes, something’s not right here, and I’m tired of struggling with the same things.” But if we do, than we’ve chosen hope over fear and can begin finding our way in the light and no longer be stumbling around in the dark.
God always invites us into the light because that’s where He is. But what’s even more amazing is that he won’t ask us to do something or go somewhere without also accompanying us on the journey to get there. If God is asking us to become aware of some things it’s not so he can judge us, condemn us, or fault us for them. But rather it’s so that he can have the opportunity to heal us and show himself to be kind, compassionate, and faithful.
So, whether that means meeting with a counselor to grow in this area, asking the Holy Spirit to lead you in the Word to reveal things that need to be known by you, surrounding yourself with a life-giving community, or all of the above, it’s a worthwhile endeavor for now and for the future God has up ahead for you.