Have you heard the phrase, “self-fulfilling prophecy?” When I was a child, my dad explained it to me with an example. Once, in junior high school, he was transferring a science project that involved him carrying a liquid-filled jar up a set of stairs. A tiny voice in the back of his mind kept saying, “You’re going to end up spilling this.” Well, sure enough, he wound up tripping on a stair and sending the jar flying.
I’ve always approached the self-fulfilling prophecy from the negative, so to speak, stopping myself from dwelling on bad things that might happen as much as I can to keep from actually subconsciously making those bad things happen. Sheepishly, I admit that I am just now getting around to the empowering idea of thinking about positive things so that I might be able to take advantage of the self-fulfilling prophecy rather than being hurt by it.
I’m not talking about the kind of positive thinking that some people use to try to become rich or be famous. I’m talking about creating self-talk that is in alignment with God’s will for a Christian life. I’m talking about taking advantage of two of the most powerful words on the planet: I AM.
The first powerful use of I AM occurred by the Almighty Himself, when He introduced Himself to Abraham as I AM. In those two words, He declared His omnipotence and purpose. As children of God, we should pay particular attention to our use of these two words ourselves.
For example, if we go around saying to ourselves, “I am tired; I am depressed; I am unhappy with my marriage; I am unworthy,” how can we hope to be anything except exactly what we have declared ourselves to be? When we say something about ourselves enough to ourselves, we really start to believe it. Then, we start to say it to other people. Finally, those people start to believe this about us as well.
On the other hand, what if we started self-talk that is what we hope to be, even if we don’t feel it in the moment? For Christians trying to live the life God intends for us, phrases like: “I am open; I am love; I am kind; I am happy; I am thankful; I am peaceful” make powerful mantras.
Using self-fulfilling prophecy to our advantage also involves really being observant, but not judgmental, of ourselves. I realized this as I thought about my New Year’s resolutions this year. At first, I resolved to tell myself “I am strong,” as often as possible, especially when I was feeling most weak or sad or depressed.
Then, I had a sort of revelation one morning as I was doing my Bible study. On a recent trip, my husband had asked me, “Why do you say OK when I tell you to let me carry something (like the luggage), but then you just keep carrying it yourself?” He’s right. I do do that sort of thing all the time. Why? I think it is because I need to be in control or something. So, do I really need to be telling myself, “I am strong,” when trying to be the strong one all the time keeps me from letting others lift the load every once in a while? No wonder I am always tired!
If I don’t let my husband help with the luggage, can you imagine how I fail to let God help me with the day-to-day challenges I face? When I realized how often I fail to lean on God for the tiny things (He’s too busy for the little stuff, right?), I realized that my mantra for 2013 should be something like, “I am leaning on Jesus,” instead of “I am strong.”
Do you realize how strong I will really be when I master leaning on the One who can handle everything, even the tiny stuff?
So, what’s your self-fulfilling prophecy for 2013? Remember to observe your life, not judge it. Remember to pray about your conclusions. Remember the power of I AM.