Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Magical Thinking Undone

I suppose it's true that opposites attract. My beloved is, in some ways my opposite. This is particularly true in how we view people and the world. He tends to think the worst; he expects to be cheated in nearly every business transaction, he doesn't trust any salesperson, repair person, or any person who may in any way cause him to part with his money. He is much more likely to be cautious around people, thinking that they may try to take some sort of mental or physical advantage over him. He is, as I like to call him, Sammy Safety. He still calls out to our children "watch your fingers, I'm closing the windows!" in the van, even though our children are well past the age of worry as far as their fingers getting trapped by a slowly rolled up window goes. And as far as I know, he tends to be fairly realistic (except for his intense paranoia that someone is going to invade our home with guns blazing, or climb a ladder and steal our children from their beds,) about ways in which he could be injured or killed--you know, car accident, falling from a ladder when he's working around the house. He's careful and he's fairly realistic in his thinking.

I, on the other hand, tend to think the best of people. While I'm not sending my money to exiled Nigerian princes, I don't think that people are out to swindle me all the time. I tend to take people at face value. I trust them. I believe that people are basically good. Sometimes my Sammy Safety thinks of me as Stevie Stupid, because I don't take all the precautions that he does. But I wouldn't say I'm careless. I'm careful a good deal of the time. Especially in situations that I know I could be harmed. Most especially in situations that I know I could be harmed but the likelihood of it actually happening are low. Like driving off a bridge. (This is why I have a safety hammer in my van. Never mind that I travel over bridges almost never in my daily driving.) Or having a freak accident with a very sharp knife while I'm cutting vegetables in which I stab myself in the gut after tripping. Or having my once or twice a year soak in the tub and being very concerned about a hair dryer falling into the tub. Never mind that it's clear across the room and doesn't stretch that far. I'm very careful in these situations because I never imagine the run-of-the-mill, day-to-day accidents happening to me or my family. If something is going to happen, it's got to be an insanely weird, make-the-headlines type deal, right?
Because I like to think that I live right. I go to church weekly. I raise my children to respect authority, accept responsibility, and contribute thoughtfully. I'm kind to animals. (Let's just forget about the Bucket of Doom, shall we?) I vote. I don't shirk jury duty. I go to parent/teacher conferences. I visit the dentist every six months. I have checkups with the doctor. I occasionally pay for the person behind me in line at the drive up. And I like to think that being careful and doing all the Right Things keeps me in a magical bubble of protection.


This past week, all of my magical thinking was undone.

My beloved was admitted to the heart hospital with a wonky heart rhythm. (He's fine, thank God, but now I know why he can't keep time when he dances. Buh-dunh-dunh!) A loved one has had to undergo some tests for something that doesn't appear to be Something, but could be Something because they keep asking her to come back. An acquaintance, who is dear to some who are dear to me, died tragically and prematurely (he was in my age bracket), even after, by all accounts, he had been doing all the Right Things. And now, I'm not sure what to do. Because it seems that it isn't the big and weird things from the outside that wants to do us in, but what's inside us that is trying to do us harm.

I can have a safety hammer, be super vigilant when using knives, and make sure that my hairdryer is unplugged before I enter the tub. But I can't see what's in me that might do me in. And there is no form of magical thinking or clean living that can guarantee I will breathe my next breath. I don't understand it. I can't even pretend to make sense of any of it, and I can only surmise that these things happen because we live in a fallen world. I don't like it. And you'd better believe that I've spoken with God about it and told Him in no uncertain terms of my dislike. I'm sure He heard me. I'm sure He can handle my anger and fist-shaking.

But I'm also certain--in fact, it's the only thing of which I am truly certain in this life--that He is in control and He knows what He's doing and that He loves me and those I love more than I can know.

And that will have to do.

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