It’s no secret I’m a big fan of My Utmost for His Highest, and today’s devotion (July 30 – I know it’s after midnight, so I’m a day late), “The Discipline of Disillusionment” is a great example of why I love reading this every day to help me dig deeper into Christ. If you’d like to read it, you can click on the link on the side bar, or click on this link (assuming I posted this correctly): http://utmost.org/ You’ll have to choose July 30 on the calendar on the right side of the screen to get to this particular message.
The heart of the message is that we must not illusion ourselves in our relationships with others; if we choose to believe the illusion, we will be disappointed and cynical in our relationships when we are disillusioned by the imperfect actions of the person we’ve elevated to godlike status. Disillusionment that comes from God allows us to look at others as they really are and accept them anyway because our faith is in God and not man.
This message strikes particularly close to home for me because I put this kind of pressure on my husband for a long time, especially after the miscarriages started. I was not basing our relationship solely in Christ for a while before my faith was shaky, and then I expected him to fill the voids I felt in my spiritual life after we started losing babies. There was no way for him to live up to all of that expectation, and I was bitterly disillusioned every time he couldn’t live up to my crazy illusion. I tried to make my husband responsible for giving me value and worth that could only come from God. Obviously, it didn’t work, and it endangered our relationship. It took some serious counseling and a lot of work to change my focus and understand the importance of building a foundation on Christ alone. That foundation afforded me the freedom to love my husband exactly the way he is.
Sometimes relationships aren’t the only thing that can hold us captive to the illusion; sometimes it’s a dream or a goal, maybe even an admirable dream or goal. But the second we lose sight of God’s purpose for us, that dream becomes the illusion we follow with all our hearts. Losing that dream or failing to obtain our goal is a bitter disappointment if we lost the lens filter God would have disillusioned us with – think of it as a spiritual and emotional polarizer allowing images to become clearer and more vivid. For example, I have ceased praying that God would let me carry a baby, and most of you probably think I’m a pessimist for doing so. But I am not sure that my dream is God’s plan for me; I have heard no words from heaven saying, “Anne, you are going to have a succesful pregnancy.” No angels have visited my home to tell my husband that I will give birth to a child by this time next year. There is only God telling me to trust him, so the only thing I can pray when we have become pregnant is for God to work in the situation.
I do not love this instruction. I do not love the pain it has caused me. I do love God, I do want to obey him, so I am trusting him. What I have heard him tell me is that he could give me exactly what I want right now, but I would have to accept that it may not be what he really wanted me to have. As much as I would love to give birth to a healthy child, I cannot go back to the horrible disillusionment I struggled with before. I can’t replace God with the dream because I would not survive another round of human disillusionment. And if God tells you that he has something planned for your future, how can you ignore that and follow an illusion instead? Talk about the ultimate dangling carrot…
I can attest to the power of Godly disillusionment in my life, starting with my marriage and working through every relationship I have. I only expect perfection from God, so I am less judgmental; I can accept the motives and the heart of someone rather than critically dissect their every action. I can love more freely because I don’t expect to be loved perfectly in return; I can love myself because I don’t have to be perfect (this one is HUGE for me). I can accept that my dreams won’t always become reality, and I can accept that I can’t see the whole picture the way that God does. If I think of all of the losses in human terms, I go crazy and bitter and cynical. If I base my life and my thoughts on Christ, then my only purpose is to obey him and trust him. That I can do – most of the time. I would be dishonest to pretend that I follow through with that every moment of every day. When Christ alone is my foundation, I have solid ground to stand on. When I make my own foundation or accept the world’s foundation, I have no hope for my future because I can never be perfect, and I sink in the despair of my past because of the pain and the things I failed to accomplish. I desperately need the discipline of disillusionment.