Our fantasy with reality

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By David Whitlock

“Robin is better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.”

- From the movie “(500) Days of Summer”

Our obsession with reality television has run amuck.

I sincerely hope Kate and Jon Gosselin get back together with their eight children and live happily ever after, that Michaele and Tareq Salahi - the couple who managed to crash the White House dinner party - get their own reality show (maybe uninvited guests can show up?), that Richard and Mayumi Heene, who allegedly perpetrated the “balloon boy hoax” in hopes of landing their own reality show, learn from their mistakes and live a meaningful life, but I doubt if any of my 2010 wishes for these fame mongers will abate the onslaught of a dozen or more others who are ready to step up and take their place in the media’s spotlight.

You have to ask, just what are we saying about ourselves?

Could it be that we are simply trying to find significance in a world of constant degradation for all that seems wholesome and good, where silent acts of valor in the home are just that: actions that are known only to family, or perhaps only in the memory bank of a discouraged parent? Ours is a world where for too many, time invested in others doesn’t seem to matter unless it’s on DVD, where we can show and tell, and declare our lives - good or bad - for all to see, and for all to recognize - most of all... us. That’s right, us!

But it’s a fantasy world, after all, this world with its made up stars, this world we have allowed the media to create, and if we aren’t careful, we will allow the lure of the media to enamor us and therefore ruin our silent actions of care and concern. The stark reality is that the majority of our good deeds will go forever unnoticed and unappreciated, I am sorry to say - at least by those this side of eternity.

But this hidden side of life does affect the other, does it not? It’s that part of our of our lives where we encounter others apart from what anyone else may ever know, much less understand, where our unseen actions transform the present moment into forever.

It’s the hands of a praying parent over the baby in a crib, a mom with a tear in her eye as she puts her child on the school bus the first day of school, a dad glancing back in the rear view mirror one more time as he leaves his son at the college dorm, a mom who silently waits and hopes for that wayward child to return home from who knows where, a dad who sleeps with one eye open until his daughter returns safely home from her date. It’s moments like these, when no one notices, when no one else cares, it’s these moments, when we sit and wait, and hope and trust, and try and fail and yes, lose our composure, but most of all those moments when nobody knows but only us and the Eternal, these are the moments that make the difference for us and our families... forever.

And so, at 2:30 a.m., I tiptoe into my oldest son’s room. He’s 19, home from college, for goodness sake! And then I quietly, ever so quietly, open the door of my two daughters’ room as they are sleeping. They are practically grown! What am I doing?

Just checking. And praying.

No camera. Just reality. It’s better than a dream. It’s life.

David B. Whitlock, Ph.D., is pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Lebanon. He also teaches in the School of Theology at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville. You can visit David at his Web site www.davidbwhitlock.com.