Reality at All Costs

March 25th, 2013 No Comments

M. Scott Peck, MD, author of the best-selling book The Road Less Traveled, is also famous for a remark that can be paraphrased as such: Mental health is directly related to one’s commitment to reality at all costs. Take a moment to think about what that phrase means. Now take another moment to consider what that means in your world, in your life, in your brain. What would reality at all costs even look like for you? What would it change?

Mental health is, literally, all in your head. As a licensed professional counselor, there have been occasions when I recommended that a client consult with a psychiatrist regarding taking psych meds and the client responded, “But those are mind-altering chemicals!” To which I simply replied, “Yes.” For those struggling with true mental illness, mind-altering is the solution for which we search. Although medications are often helpful for many situations and persons, mind-altering healing and recovery almost always follow one’s finding and facing reality.

Avoiding reality is a 21st century skill known by the youngest to the oldest. However, too much avoidance can be mentally costly and lead to true delusions and depression. The faith communities have nearly perfected avoiding reality; every problem from finances to physical health to mental health to relational situations have been cleanly avoided with the super-spiritualizing of those who coerce you to “faith, not fear” or to speak like God and “call things that be not as though they were.” Since I fully believe the Bible to be God’s Word, I do not flippantly dismiss these ideas – not at all. I do, however, try to take a fully Biblical view on problems and, like God, don’t deny or ignore the problem. After all, it was Jesus, himself who said to the Jews in John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This passage is a great example of how so many of us fight our way through life. The Jews argue, debate, spin, and proclaim all of these ideas that simply are not truly reality. Then when those haven’t stopped Jesus from confronting their sin, they start calling him names: “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (vs. 48). If we want to maintain our position and hold onto our arrogance, we should follow this example of the Jews. If we want to find spiritual – and yes, mental health, it’s time to stop defending our delusions and dedicate ourselves to reality – at all costs.

Take the example of salvation. What would have happened to all of us if, when Adam and Eve first sinned, God said to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, “Don’t be negative! Just declare them to be sinless”? Well, nothing would have happened and we would all be dying in our sin with no hope of redemption. That’s not what God did. Since he is God, he was actually able to see the problem coming and prepared the solution before Adam and Eve. After all, Jesus is the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the earth (Revelation 13:8). God didn’t ignore sin or call it something other than what it is. In directly facing reality at all costs – a very costly cost, God figured out a plan, the answer, and – through the blood and pain – worked out our very precious salvation.

Not only did this approach to a serious problem work for the Most High God, it works every week in my little therapy office with clients who are struggling for improved mental health. I have every confidence that this will work for you and for whomever implements this strategy. Whether it is a congregation member that you are coaching or if it is your teenage son with whom you are angry or if it is your own depression; whatever the problem, commit yourself to reality at all costs, identify the root problem, and begin to search for the truth that will set each one of you free.

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