After I purchased a new car a couple of years ago, I began seeing it everywhere – when, before the purchase, hadn’t truly given it any thought whatsoever. To be honest, I don’t even like the car. Go figure.
Now I see it in every color. I see it in every city I’m in – within the River Region and out. I can’t get away from it. It has multiplied in my world.
But this multiplication has a name.
It’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as the frequency illusion, where once you purchase a new car, you start seeing it everywhere. The idea is that there is an attentional ‘awakening’ to the object that now holds value to you. A person doesn’t “set a new trend by buying that car; more likely it became a salient image in your brain where once it was part of the noise,” according to a PhenoSys article.
Now, what if – what IF – we allowed a “phenomenon” to allow us to see God everywhere. Like the new car – but, God. Like the purchase, but instead see the one who heals, who loves unconditionally, the who died for our sins.
What if? And does it really take a “phenomenon”? What if we allowed the goodness of God to consume everything we see? Everything we see through the good of others because of Him? The miracles. The comfort. The giving. The extension of his love through others.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
There was a period after my sister passed away in late 2015 that my relationship with God was rocky at best. I was good at keeping anything at arm’s length during that time if I felt betrayed, or if I felt wronged. Cheated. Abandoned.
Still, over and over for weeks, I heard “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns. On the radio, on random playlists. In my car, at home:
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go.
So when you’re on your knees and
answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held Your world’s not falling apart, i
t’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on
and just be held
The first stanza was gut-wrenching every time I heard it. The second, I refused to believe. And the chorus? Well, it felt impossible. I held my arm out for a long time.
Instead of believing the words in the song (and deep in my heart), I chose to seek counseling – basically, to pay someone else to tell me the same.
And I was told, “Seek Him. Him!”
And strange enough – and true story – I was also given the analogy of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
“You know when you buy a new car …”
You see it everywhere.
And that is what we can do as well. I’m not saying it was an easy transition for me during a most difficult time, but my arm eventually became heavy.
I put it down, and began seeing God everywhere I needed Him. Through friends. Through the kindness of strangers. Through my work. My family. Sunrises. Sunsets. Through all the storms.
I’ll probably never actually like my car, and seeing it everywhere reminds me more and more of that. But I’ll forever be grateful for a God who never provided me a reason to give up hope in seeing Him everywhere I turn. Wherever I am. Whoever I’m with. Wherever I drive.
And allowing Him to multiply in my world.