So I am a female writing this and while a guy might focus on the level of excitement in a video game (which often consists of the constant threat of imminent danger :-(), or how visually stimulating or epic-feeling or even mysterious (all of which I can appreciate), I am listing several ways that I, as a female, am tempted to wish life were more like a classic video game and various insights I have gained through this process.
Like a classic video game, sometimes I wish there was a more clear relationship between cause and effect – “do thing with right technique, get visible result (e.g. jump here, get gold coin)”. I feel frustrated sometimes because I know things I want to change (that are outside myself) and I feel helpless to change them.
There is so much in the Bible about avoiding a works-oriented mentality towards life. Arg! But sometimes I really want a works-oriented world! I want to know if I give x dollars, fast x-number of times, and pray a prayer (printed out so I can pray it verbatim) than I will get what I want! Why did God make life have so much uncertainty in it? Why does everything seem so complicated?
Now, I realize that there must be a reason that God makes all the choices he does that seem so frustrating to us. What does he understand that we don’t?
Another way I sometimes wish the world were more like classic video games is in wanting to have a clear course of what to do, clear expectations of what is required of me, a clear goal, and the apparent nature (as you learn through time) of what is important vs unimportant. If I am playing a game with a car on the racetrack I know that getting to the end of the race the fastest is the goal, plain and simple; as well as getting as many bonus points as I can along the way. I often know ahead of time that x items give me points and are somewhat important and that y items are just distractions. I know what is expected of me.
However, in real life we are consistently bombarded by choices and devoid of certain key pieces of information about where we are headed specifically (vs general guidelines of sanctification etc). I am often trying to figure out what to do with my time, where to travel, what church to attend, etc. And I know what is at stake! But there are not bonus point totals hovering above the things in life that I need to especially pay attention to, and distractions in life do in fact lead you on a different path sometime. In real life often there is not a clear cause and effect relationship and what seems like infinite options. Also, the (non moral) “rules” do not universally apply.
Another way that I sometimes wish life were more like a video game is in having the chance to re-do things and erase mistakes, and having unlimited options of “lives” if you continue to restart the game. Of course in our world we only get one life (vs multiple lives) and we can’t just unplug and restart from the beginning.
Additionally, I often long for a strong clear sense of mission: what my life is about, what it is leading towards, and clearer goals. I also wish I knew my strengths better and how to use them in everyday life. In a video game you can see yourself get more powers, weapons/gear/equipment etc and you know you have them. You quickly learn what you need to do to max them out. In real life however, I often feel like I am holding a hand of cards and I don’t even know what they are.
Thoughts on why complexity and uncertainty are good things:
Beyond the fact that 1) once you learn a classic video game really well it gets boring, and 2) the fact that the high interactivity of life and its complexity makes it more rich, and 3) as the time travel movies show, if you affect the past you affect the future, then: I think that if life truly were like a video game we would lose depth and quality of character. Depth and quality of character is a complex and very important thing that takes time to develop.
In a video game there is a lot of uncertainty: for example, you might say, “if I leap over this chasm in such a way, will I be able to gain x things and make it to the other side?” or, “If I go down this tunnel what will be there?”, etc, but it is only a certain type of uncertainty.
In a video game your skill is tested, your bravery is tested, but your moral character, I would argue, is not tested. Most video games are, by nature self-focused. If you see a beggar in a video game you are wondering if you help the beggar and incur some cost in the process whether they will give you something or provide some some sort of necessary information to help you on your quest.
If life were like a video game our character would not be tested and we might be molded to be more selfish and self-focused. We would also lose a sense of the appreciation (which some of us lose anyway) of the things that are not “important in our specific quest”.
Also, if our life were planned out for us and given to us on a platter as far as the goal, expectations, things valuable, and what to do and how to do it, many of us would always wonder, am I the type of person who would do this anyway?
That is one reason that it is important (in many cases, depends on the situation) in cases that allow for it, for a guy to make the choice himself who he wants to pursue/marry as compared to feeling pressured into something by the girl (although there are situations where it works out fine).
In the book of Job, Satan discusses Job with God and says that Job will surely curse God if God allows Satan to take everything away from him. God allows Satan to take away Job’s wealth, livelihood, children, and health, and Job still does not curse God, and eventually God gives Job back his wealth, health, and children.
If Job had had more knowledge of what was going on and the end course of things, his resilience would have not proven that he cared about serving God at all. It is in uncertainty and complexity that we can’t understand, that our true character is shaped and revealed. It is then that we can best be “salt” and “light” on this fallen world. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13a, see verses 13b-16) If we knew what was going to happen I believe we would not have as much credibility among angels, men, or even in the quiet of our own hearts as to the authenticity of our service to God. It should be a service towards him, no matter what.
I realized that I really loved someone beyond what they could give me when I truly believed that it was likely I would never talk to them again, but still would enthusiastically jump in front of a car to save them, even though I do highly value my own life. Often times, rich people wonder who are their real friends – who truly love them and want to be with them and help/bless them beyond what they get they get out of the relationship. They can learn this by what happens if they lose their riches, or how their “friends” treat others who from whom they get no benefit beyond just caring about that other individual.
To God, it matters what we notice and how we treat what seems “unimportant”. If we knew what was “important” or “not important” off the bat, then it would nullify the shaping of our character – how we act when we don’t see any immediate benefit. If we are told to do something it is not as meaningful as if we did it anyway. God is the rich friend who asks himself – would you still regard/serve me even in hardship?
Additionally, there is a degree of helplessness to the human existence and it keeps us from pride which blinds our eyes to truth. Most of us are naturally prideful people when we feel like we have attained things by our own effort. When we believe that we can handle everything ourselves we see no need for God. We forget that everything we have is a gift and that there is a delicate balance holding everything together that hinges on largely undeserved, un-earned favor we receive from God every day.
One example of an aspect of unearned favor that is showered on us every day is being able to rely on people liking us. What if you suddenly found yourself with something about your appearance that biased almost everyone against you from when they first saw you, no matter how much effort you put in. In that case, how would your self-attained “success” journey be different? In so many ways in your daily interactions you are riding on the coat-tails of the favor God gave you in so many ways, as shown in even in this one small yet significant aspect of allowing most of you to have qualities and live in a society where social first-impression likability is attainable for you.
We are nothing without the favor God gives us every day. You might call it luck but the “coincidences” we experience every day point to something being more than just luck. If it were luck alone, we would probably be dead. Not to be depressing about it, but if randomness were truly given free reign, the delicate balance of the complexity around us and in us would not be attainable I would argue.
What do you think about all these topics? Let us know by posting a comment.
This post is written by Sarah L Jones, founder of the site. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective disorder. Click Here to read part of her life story.