I remember my first trip to Disneyland. My friends and I were so enthralled with Fantasyland that we spent most of the day there. We were having such a good time that we nearly forgot to visit the other attractions in the park, places like Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland. That’s not really so different from what happens when some of us get lost in our personal fantasies.
We fantasize about a relationship, hoping that a certain person will one day fall in love with us. Or we fantasize about an improbable career, like becoming a famous artist, actress, or movie star. And who hasn’t fantasized about winning the lottery? There’s nothing wrong with having dreams, of course. But fantasies are unhealthy because by definition they are based solely on our imaginations, untethered to reality.
If fantasies are so unrealistic, why do we cling to them? One reason is that they can produce a kind of sham peace. Unsatisfied with life right now, I can distract myself by imagining a beautiful future. The problem with fantasies, of course, is that they can be instantly demolished by the pinprick of harsh reality. While fantasies may calm and console us for a time, they will eventually come to an end. The person we are fantasizing about falls in love with someone else. We grow into middle age no closer to becoming a rock star. We hit retirement with precious little money in the bank. That’s when the pseudopeace we’ve derived from our fantasies quickly dissolves, leaving us deflated and depressed.
Feeding on fantasies is like eating cotton candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If we make a habit of it, we will suffer from spiritual and emotional malnutrition because falsehoods don’t have the power to nourish. Instead, they steal our attention and energy away from the grace God gives us to live in the present, helping us to build a better future.
What fantasies are you harboring? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you. Then ask for grace to let go of them so you can take hold of the good life God has for you.