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You will find you've looked for a sign up above, but He was there in the dirt where you stood.

I want God to uproot this from my heart. I said those words recently. Out loud. After I said them, I was immediately met with Counselor's voice, speaking words to me along these lines,

"You already have everything that you need to do it yourself."

 
For the sake of clarity, what I so badly wanted God to "uproot" at the time was this: my dependency upon attention, acceptance, and affirmation from others. (I'll write about this developed dependency another time, but for now, please bear with me.) And, I will not lie. In that moment, my internal response to Counselor's comment was not acceptance and understanding. It also was not offense or resistance. It was, however, a feeling of confusion. Why didn't he understand that I have no control over this issue? This has plagued me my whole life, and I have prayed over and over again that God would help me to overcome it; but I still feel powerless to it. How can I possibly have everything I need to do it myself? Wouldn't I have stopped caring about what other people think about me by now if that were true?

Well, ladies and gents, I have news for you. It turns out that sometimes it takes a little time to move from confusion to clarity. And, clarity regarding Counselor's statement has arrived (well, at least in part). It turns out I have a little thinking problem sometimes. A magical thinking problem. Unfortunately, all my fellow H.P. fans, this is not quite as cool as it sounds.

While there are different meanings to the term, in essence, magical thinking involves believing in false causal relationships. This can most easily be explained by some of the egocentric thoughts of young children. Think about the movie, Home Alone: Kevin wished his family would disappear, and the next morning, everyone was gone. He wished himself to be home alone. Another example might be a small child who believes it is raining outside because he is sad. Magical thinking.

Now, having faith in an intangible God who actually does things may seem like a magical thought too. And, maybe it is. In fact, maybe there is a delicate balance to having faith that there is a God who can do "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20) and taking responsibility for our choices. Now, this does not discredit the miraculous. Not in my life, at least. On the other hand, being aware of my tendency to "think magically," so to speak, has illuminated an important concept to me: Life does not happen to me without my participation.
 
I am an active participant in my life. So, what does that mean? Well, with regards to the aforementioned dependency problem, it means that I can use what I have been given to uproot it from my own heart. Use moments of rejection as opportunities to model healthy reactions to those who may find themselves in similar painful circumstances. Use my assertion skills when I am tempted to please people to set healthy boundaries. Use thought-stopping techniques when I find myself engaging in negative self-talk. Use music to self-soothe when I am overwhelmed with emotions. Use my capacity to show concern for others when I am overly concerned about what others think about me. Use the gifts I have been given to bless others when I am consumed with my own needs and wants. Use the Word to remind me of who He is (all the things) and who I am, beloved. Use prayer to connect with the Holiest One who is always attentive, accepting, and affirming.
 
The quote of the day and one of my favorite scriptures is this (and, please take note of the action verbs which indicate active participation):
 
"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." - Colossians 3:12-14
 
Thank You, Lord, for equipping me to do hard things. Bless those who have offered words of wisdom and instruction to me, illuminating Your truths in my life. Remind me to use what You have already given me to become more like You. Awaken my mind to identify magical thoughts and replace them with clarity that comes from You alone. Correct me when I am not others-focused. I ask for Your grace and mercy as I attempt to become a more active participant in the life You have given me. I know that this means I will have more opportunities to experience the feelings that I am afraid of, but I know that You will be with me and am thankful for that. Amen.  

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