Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Magical Thinking

The erroneous belief, similar to a normal stage
of childhood development—
that thoughts assume
a magical power capable of influencing events
without a physical action actually occurring;
a conviction that thinking equates with doing,
accompanied by an unrealistic understanding
of cause and effect
Examples ... Dreams in children, in primitive peoples,
and in patients under various conditions
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2011 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

"It's just your imagination.", Mother would say to me on those frequent occasions when I'd be afraid of something, or certain I could be/do something rather fantastical. I was, and am a very vivid thinker. (Which is probably why ALL of my children had imaginary friends.)

On the one hand I treasured mother's ready-assessments. What comfort it was to quiet me against the darkness & the things that lurked there - - things my mind had conjured up. But, on the other hand, I fought hard her reason when it assaulted what my mind's eye had deemed absolute, certain: "I am, too, a fairy princess!" (I still find it hard to believe that she was not visionary enough to realize that my princessnous made her a Queen Mother of sorts.)

One must never rob a child of their dreams ... only their nightmares!

Sometimes I find myself wondering about the distinction between magical thinking and faith. I know there's one to be made, as the medical professional points out (in the above quote). It's occurred to me that the biggest warp is one of hubris - - an exaggerated pride or self-confidence.

Such a distinction goes from the use of reason, to the use of something far less reasonable. In a fashion the unreasonable looks or sounds more like a finely-cast spell (ala Merlin or Harry Potter) than a genuine act of faith.

Magical thinking and the casting of spells are often companions. (Like when I just knew I could turn that childhood bully into a toad.)

Awhile back I heard myself praying and was startled to hear this come out of my mouth: "Lord, forgive me, I know that what I think is not always the way things really are."

What?!! Did I say that?

Wishful thinking does not a faith-filled prayer make.

That same day I once again packed away my wand, having been reminded that magical thinking is all about ME, while faith is largely about HIM. (Come to think of it, I should have destroyed the thing - the wand, for I will - no doubt - try to use it again some day.)

When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of
childhood behind me.
1 Corinthians 13:11

Footnote: I did a word-search in the New Testament on the word reason. Wow. It's widely used, and quite often that usage is as a postscript, i.e., "... for that reason, this or that happened". In nearly all instances, reason provided clarity to what really happened. No wands. For example ...

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope
that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect ...
1 Peter 3:15

The reason the Son of God appeared
was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18


Sonja said...

A huge AMEN to this post Kathleen! That magic wand has a sneaky way of appearing in my life too...even when we know better!

The scriptures you used are so strong and somehow I especially loved the l John one,,, 'the reaason the son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work'.

Here's to increasing the childlike faith while not remaining a child... the pablum days will never satisfy again, not when we've seen so much more.

Love you!

Rebecca said...

"Faith is about HIM!" That pretty well says it all, Kathleen. What a stimulating comparison/distinction you've made here.

Just a little something from Judy said...

The longer I go in my walk with Him, the longer I realize the absolute silliness of my thinking that I could have any magical powers in any area of my life. You see, I just finished a Bible Study on Job 30-40, and it was so powerful in showing me just how awesome my God is and how little I am. I was reminded in a real way, to put away my silly wand. Today, visiting here, I was reminded again of it's futility. God uses you my friend. Love His gentle, grace filled reminders to me.

Denise Oldham said...

Amen, amen.

RCUBEs said...

Wouldn't that be nice to wave a wand and wish granted just like that? But how deceptive when it comes to spiritual world...You're so right that "magical thinking" is all about "ME"...While faith is all about Him...And though He didn't promise a better way of life here when we surrender to Him, yet our wish to live forever is already granted! And His inheritance ours! Thanks be to Jesus!

Cheryl Barker said...

Love that last verse, Kathleen -- "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Thank you, Lord!