I was listening to Mark Pollock on TED talk (he is blind and paralyzed), talking about realism and hope. He shared the story of POWs in Vietnam, relating that it was the realists who were able to persevere and who were able to persevere and who eventually came home. The optimists kept setting hopeful, optimistic timelines and expectations (“by this Christmas”….”maybe next Christmas”….. only to be disappointed again and again, eventually despairing and giving up, usually dying in their cells. There comes a time when optimism has to give way to realism. And looking at the realistic facts helps us accept what we cannot change so that we can invest our efforts in the things we can change….usually ourselves and our response to those things.
When women I work with fail to deal realistically with bad relationships, unchangeable pasts, and current limitations and simply want to wallow in self-pity or rebellion and defiance or double down on what they’ve always done, thinking something else is going to change, we are stuck and efforts at recovery will be impossible. Getting past such hurdles and into active recovery responses can take a lot of prayer, time, effort, emotional engagement, and creative thinking. It can also be exhausting for us as their mentors and instructors, as well as for them. If, after six – eight weeks of effort, we have made no progress, it is time to acknowledge that God has brought them here simply to see what’s possible, but not yet for them to begin to live into that possibility. Even God, in his wisdom, will not make a horse he has brought to water drink if the horse is determined to runaway and keep bucking……while dying of thirst.