Alison Moore lives in London and has been a committed Christian celibate since 2006. She writes about her experience of coming to terms with her past, leaving aside ‘unreal’ dreams and attaching hope to a solid vision God has given her.
Ask most men what kind of film they like to watch and they will tell you that the fast-paced movies with plenty of action and adrenalin appeal to them. Movies like Fast and Furious which portray a successful tough male persona are popular – it is the strength of the man and his ability to affect the situation around him which is significant.
As for us ladies, well – the majority of women identify on some level with characters like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and her desire to win the unruly Mr Darcy. It is her beauty and its capacity to affect others which counts.
Why do these stereotypes appeal to us? They appeal to us in a very healthy way to demonstrate positive behaviour and can provide healthy role models. Strength for men can be character strength and leadership, not just brawn, and beauty for women can be grace, humour, determination and so on.
Yet sometimes fiction can function as a substitute for us and instead of leading us into reality it can trap us out of it. Sometimes a painful event can stop us from moving forwards.
When I was a teenager I rebelled and got into going out with boys, getting drunk and staying out. My behaviour resulted, after a few years, in me getting pregnant, having the pregnancy terminated and losing the love of my life. For many years I just couldn’t get over it – the whole thing was just so devastating and I didn’t have a clue how to get over it. Nothing helped. My life was totally destroyed.
Because the reality of my life had hit a brick wall, my only option for a while was to take refuge in my imagination and somehow that imagination seemed to offer me hope. In my imagination I would have a second chance, fall in love, get married and have children.
The trouble with my dream is that it just wasn’t real. And it took a very long time before I could let go of the fact that deep down I was still in love with the father of my pregnancy and face the fact that my dream was never going to happen. It can be very easy for us to nurture things which are not real because we kid ourselves we can get something for nothing and we can comfort ourselves or put a lot of hope in these things. We can substitute the hope for the reality of doing anything about it.
Anything which is not real is not of God. God is in the business of reality and the plan He has for us is 100% real. He has created us and everything which is for us. It is only what He has created us for that will satisfy because these are the things we are made for.
Maybe we think one day we will get married or have children or be a great leader or plant a church or something but if the origin of it is not from God and we are just ‘dreaming’ or we are still hanging on to things from the past which have themselves moved on, then it doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t happen we get sick, frustrated, older and just don’t fulfil our potential in life – we get ‘stuck’.
Lots of people like to watch films because they identify with a deep need in us to be beautiful or to be strong.
Imagination can be a very powerful thing because we attach hope to it and that hope gives direction for our future.
But – as a friend of mine quoted – ‘entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy’.
It took me a long time for me to realise that my dream wasn’t going to happen. And, when I did that, I needed to repent of my dream and turn away from it. That was a very difficult thing to do because then I had to face the devastation again because that was my reality and it was still there – just the same many years later. Reality doesn’t change without us in it – that’s the amazing thing and that’s what makes it our reality. The only way I could face that devastation and loss was with someone else who had been there before me and that person was Jesus. But I found out very quickly that He was there to bring me healing from the old wounds and so much joy as I realised that God’s love had been there with me all along.
How powerful it is when we attach our hope to a vision God has given us.
As one of our pastors was saying last night – ‘What is the dream God has placed in our hearts? What is the dream that God has placed in your heart?’
Do we need to repent of hopes which are not of God to make room for the ones which are? How amazing and how wonderful that would be.