love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

Power of coincidence, struggles of a former believer…with winks

This account was written down some time back, but It had been on my mind to write it out here in a blog for a bit, and had it sitting in “draft mode” for a couple of weeks, and I felt stirred to move it on out of “draft world” due to a post by Violet and a comment by John Zande.
(whose ‘direct hit” comments and posts never fail to stir further thought with me )

Upon being asked by some atheist friends why I believed in God, one reason I put forth, was experience. What i called “winks of God”. Those moments in life when you believe things happen for a reason. “For such a time as this”. The argument against my reasoning, was that coincidence is very often taken for more than what it is. That we humans tend to “look” for coincidence and lean highly toward superstition.
However, it was still very difficult for me to see this from an atheist point of view.

There were times when money came in unexpectedly just when needed.
Needing a job, thinking it quite impossible to find, looking for hard to get hours, 8:30 -2:30 m-f so I could still be there constantly for my children….finding one with exactly such hours the Sunday morning I prayed about it…
All those little “near wrecks” one thinks , if i hadn’t forgotten my coffee on the table, had to run back in and grab it, and re-lock the door..that could have been me in that wreck!

One such I took as a …”personal wink from god” was a time about eight years ago, I had an experience that I considered a “wink of God”. At this time, I believed in an interactive and personal God. I had had an extraordinarily bad day at work, was so wiped out that by the time I got to my car, laid my head on my steering wheel and just let the tears flow. In that position I turned the key in the ignition, and started the car. AT that immediate moment the chords (from the very first chord!) began to play on the song, “Bad day” I could do nothing but wipe my tears and start laughing out loud. It felt quite personal, this wink. And I thanked him for his sense of humor. What were the odds…that of all the moments, and all the radio stations, this song would begin at that very moment after I paused, and waited with head down…before starting the ignition?

My journey of course continued. And coming into a different perspective, I began to realize how many things I overlook that don’t fit into the confirmation wink theory. πŸ˜€
I realized how quickly I was at grabbing onto the things that confirmed my personal bias, and how easily I disregarded those that did not confirm it.

This was exemplified by a more recent encounter. One in which I got into my car to leave for work in the a.m., and as I started my car, the exact same thing happened. The chords to the song (“Bad Day” began from the VERY beginning, from the moment i turned the key in my car! This caused me to remember my former “wink of god”. This time I caught myself doing something else silly….. Could this be some sort of premonition that I was going to have a bad day? and would so need the song? My line of work included the chance, of getting hit, kicked, slapped, and bit…on a very bad day…

::chagrin:: To be perfectly honest, all day at work I was expecting the worst to happen. Awaiting the proverbial hammer to fall. It was not till the drive home, (after the uneventful day ; which working where i work now is oftentimes AGAINST the odds!) that I realized what I had done. How I had allowed myself to resort to “magical thinking”. Superstition….we humans bathe in it!

I continued searching my experiences, to see how often i might be overlooking the ones that did not confirm my previously held bias. And I will recount one more…

My car gas light had come on, I was on empty, and needed gas. I passed a total of four gas stations on my way home, intending to stop at each one, and somehow getting sidetracked, and frustratingly thinking as i passed, fine! I’ll get the next one. Alas, after passing the fourth gas station in the same manner, i passed the turn off to my home, and drove out of my way to another gas station a bit farther on. Frustrated that i had allowed myself to get sidetracked THAT many times in my quest for gas, and thankful i made it finally to a gas station. I pulled in, got out, and began to pump my gas, when a black car pulled in next to mine, a guy in a suit hopped out of the passenger side and hurried over to me. (now mind you there were at least seven other cars at various pumps at this station) He walks up to me, (and i prepare for action, not used to being approached thus) and he quickly hands me a pamphlet, saying “I know you weren’t expecting this but i would like to give you this” . He hurries back into the waiting car and they pull off.

I am left standing there, holding the paper, pumping my gas, and wondering, why me? why not any of the other patrons, cars etc.???

I look at the pamphlet and realize it is literature from the watch tower society. and i grin.

For at that moment, I consider the odds. I passed four gas stations this very morning had to drive passed my house, to get HERE. There were several other cars there, several people putting gas in their cars…why was I the lucky victim?

Coincidence? destiny? wink of God? πŸ˜€

I think the Jehovah Witnesses would most certainly say the hand of God was present!…:)
I do not think my Christian friends would agree. (they might in fact attribute it to the devil?)
Or….
as I see now…just one of the millions of coincidences that many times i try very hard to read something more out of…?

An interesting article for any interested in further reading…on the Power of Coincidence

The Power of Coincidence
by David Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College
http://www.davidmyers.org/Brix?pageID=91

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8 Comments

  1. My friend, I have come to rule out a few things as happening. Of these two on the list are luck and coincidence.
    First, on coincidence I think it is just an illusion a make believe sort of way of looking at the world and making sense of the things that happen around us.
    On luck, I think to argue that you are lucky on a specific morning is just a feel good feeling we want to have. Why would the universe decide just to favour you on a particular morning and leave everyone else to their fates? I think things just happen, we feel lucky because we don’t want to see any other way. I could be wrong though!

    • I agree….it has just taken a lot of deconstructing my former thoughts and learnings to get here… πŸ™‚ I do think we enjoy the things that make us feel good. And for many it is much easier to accept those things, and the idea that we are…’fearfully and wonderfully made” and that “god/something has a special plan for us” …
      I am learning though that when one factors in all the facts…to accept those former things we have to ignore a LOT of stuff… πŸ˜€
      Still working on the free will stuff and looking forward to further convo on it.
      Always love your thoughts noel!

      • I think each of us for different reasons are able to look at life in a different lens after leaving the baggage of religion behind. Some time take a while longer, but since it isn’t a race, it is all well. We have different learning curves, mine could be steep and yours gentle, but we arrive at the same truths either way!

        I enjoy reading your stories and thanks for the compliments!

  2. β€œThe General root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other.”
    -Francis Bacon

    Excellent post, Holly! I’ve said it before, but i admire the way you take these subjects apart.

    • You say everything better and more succinctly… πŸ˜€ I ramble..
      What a perfectly timed quote by Francis Bacon! had not seen that one before!

  3. Excellent post, I loved all your stories and they reminded me of so many of my own funny coincidence stories – especially with songs! I guess music is on in the background so much of our lives and we usually don’t even pay attention, but when something significant is happening and the lyrics seem to have meaning, it’s a weird feeling.

  4. Great post, Holly! It’s true that you can remember a coincidence for many years, but to me it always seems like reading a detective story: if it’s not important, it will not make the book. While in life, there’s lots and lots of ‘clues’ that turn out to be completely irrelevant. πŸ™‚

  5. I too have walked this route. Paying too much attention to ‘God’s winks’ takes things a step too far, although they often bring comfort. It’s when you get a really good shove you sit up and pay attention.

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