“When was the last time you asked for a miracle?” I asked friends and family a couple of weeks ago.
I was curious how they’d respond.
Putting religious interpretations of miracles aside as well as scientific, historical or cultural vantage points, I was more curious about people’s expectations.
What does modern man, scratch that, post-post-modern man expect from his world? Past the Age of Reason, past the Enlightenment, have we become disenchanted thanks to our focus on facts?
In general, I think the answer is yes. To me, it seems that beyond the half-hearted attempt of Santa Claus, we have painted ourselves into a corner.
What corner? The idea that anything could happen to me in this great big, mysterious world is what excited me as a child.
That excitement translated into dreams and those dreams nourished a desire to be the first one out the door every day. Every plane that hung from the sky, every car that whizzed by populated my world with possibilities.
Outside of the realm of religion, the purpose of miracles has a lot to do with our expectations. Does it sound over the top if I say that I expect my life to be miraculous?
Out of the dozen or so people that I surveyed, only three had given any thought to asking for a miracle as an adult. What do we lose in our rational preference for proof?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get, as the saying goes.
Years ago, in my previous career, a co-worker who was more successful at what he did than I was, walked me through an intriguing exercise. It went something like this:
“Picture yourself down the road, years from now,” he said. “Let’s say you’re 30. How much money do you want to be making by then?”
I replied, “$30,000.”
“OK, now that you have that in your head,” he said, “you’ll figure it out.”
I thought it was an absurdly brief and arbitrary exercise. I picked that number to be my future salary because it sounded like a lot of money at the time. As it turned out, the goal wasn’t a hard one to achieve.
My friend’s method worked. It sounded like a shot in the dark to me at the time. How would I go from making $24,000 to $30,000 in just a few years, especially since I found my way into that company as a temp?
The path forward was unknown to me. Without the aid of facts, it was a leap. But it was a leap that I believed was possible. And what if I chose to be a realist?
The odds that a temp, who knew nothing about the field in which he landed, would be able to almost double his salary in such a short time seemed low. (I actually overshot my goal by a lot!)
A realist might have assessed himself at the bottom of the totem-pole and thought lower expectations would be prudent.
“If it is something you can receive by asking is it a miracle?” my mother-in-law, Ann asked.
That is the key point here. Many times, what you believe determines the outcome.
“Are hoping and asking the same?” Ann continued. “Is a miracle bigger than a hope?”
Are people’s hopes big enough these days?
My dad once offered advice that would fit well here.
“There are many reasons why you can’t do things in life, but if you can think of one reason why you can, go for it,” he said.
Shooting down the possibility of miracles in your life takes away that reason. This is the corner we should avoid painting ourselves into.
When was the last time you asked for a miracle? Is there one that you wish were possible?