I grew up on a farm in northwest Montana. My parents owned 160 acres along Flathead River; 80 acres was tillable land where Dad grew grain and hay. Eighty acres was a conifer woods along the river “below the hill.” It was our natural playground where our imaginations ran wild. After our chores were finished, my brother, sister and I would run for the woods – literally. Most days we were armed with just our imaginations, but once in a while we took hammers, saws, nails, and twine to build a fort.
One evening after dinner, we took our dog, Blackie, and went to the river. It was a warm summer evening and the river was fairly low. We walked a ways up river to a natural swimming hole to find it populated with fisherman and swimmers. It was fun to watch until we heard the worst yelping you can imagine from our dog.
He had stepped into a trap and it was obviously painful. We tried to help him, but every time we got close or reached out to open the trap, he snarled and snapped at us. Not knowing what else to do, we ran back to the house to get Dad. He returned with us, opened the trap and set the dog free. I don’t know how he got close enough to do it, but parents are magical that way. At least it seemed so in my young mind.
I often think of our dog and his reaction that day. He was wounded and hurting and opening the trap was the only way he would find relief. But he was not about to let us get close enough to help. He didn’t understand that we were the answer to his feverish, pain-filled experience.
Sometimes people are that way. Sometimes I am that way. I am wounded or hurt and then snap and snarl at those who want to help me. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “wounded people wound people.” How true that is.
It is this very concept that led me to my pondering the last few weeks. Let’s begin with an example that is rather benign. My husband flies…a lot. He, by his own admission, is not the most patient person when it comes to matters of efficiency. When boarding an aircraft, there are invariably those who have too many carry-ons. It seems these same people are not concerned with how long it takes them to stow their luggage and take a seat, creating a back log in the aisle of the aircraft. This annoys my husband.
He can pontificate about the proper way to board an aircraft unendingly. Not only is he annoyed with the inefficiency of others, he believes others are annoyed with him if he is inefficient. When in fact, there may be just as many people who are not concerned with efficiency. I am one of those people. More than once I have come out of a reverie to realize that I am the one holding up the boarding process. And I hear Dave’s voice in my head urging me to get my things settled and sit down. I do move faster, with a bit of a smile on my face.
Because Dave values efficiency when boarding an aircraft, does he experience people differently when he is inefficient than I do when I am inefficient (by his standards) because I am not as concerned by it?
Here’s my question: can we create our own reality? Psychology says we can and has duly dubbed it self-fulfilling prophecy.
A self-fulfilling prophecy refers to a belief or expectation that an individual holds about a future event that manifests because the individual holds it. (Good Therapy, 2015).
Now, something a little more personal and, perhaps, important. For a number of years I attended work related events with my husband. I tended to dislike going because I felt out of place. I knew I wouldn’t fit in and my outfit was guaranteed to be wrong regardless how much time I put into choosing just the right thing. Sure enough, when we arrived I felt under dressed and overwhelmed by the people. I didn’t fit in, conversation was awkward and stilted; I endured the evening rather than enjoying it.
Was the event really that bad or did I create my own reality?
What kind of reality are you creating? Recall my daughter’s remark from Daily Reads yesterday. She said, “Sometimes what we perceive others think about us is actually what we think about ourselves.”
Do you think you are hard to get along with, bossy or irritating? Are you clingy and depressing to be around? Does your style feel old-fashioned and frumpy?
The thoughts you have about yourself will define your interactions with others. Just like mine did. What can you do?
As with expectations or comparison, we first need to admit that it is present in our lives. We can do absolutely nothing if we aren’t willing to lay it out on the table and look it over. Think of it as opening a puzzle. We can’t put it together if we never open the box.
Tomorrow we will begin sorting the pieces of the puzzle we have open and laying on the table. I want you to know that you are clever, beautiful, important and God sees you. His plan for you is so good and it breaks his heart when you sabotage your life by creating a reality that is not his design.
If you didn’t already, read Judges 6:11-18 (or the whole chapter) and think about God’s interaction with Gideon. What did Gideon think about himself? What did God think about Gideon? Were they the same?
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26