I can’t take credit for the idea behind this blog post. It came directly from my counselor. We were talking about this tendency of mine to build things up in my head. I will play a scenario over and over in my head in anticipation of what may happen. This, coupled with my belief that I can in fact, predict the future, does not bode well for me. Yep, you heard me. I believe I can predict the future. If I know that I have to have a conversation with someone, or if there is a hard situation that I have to face, I play the whole thing out in my head, including how the other person will react, and what the final outcome will be. The anticipation and fear that I allow to build up prior to the conversation is usually much worse than the actually encounter. Which brings me to The Great and Powerful Oz. My counselor used the Wizard of Oz as as a great analogy for how we build certain people or situations in our life into much greater things than they really are. I’ve watched The Wizard of Oz more times than I can count. What a great movie. The flying monkeys are slightly terrifying, but who doesn’t love the Lollipop Guild? Throughout the whole movie, Dorothy and her friends are on a quest to fulfill the mission that the Wizard sent them on. They believe that if they can only kill the Wicked Witch, that the Wizard will then grant their greatest desires. Dorothy wants to go home. The Tin Man wants a heart. The Scarecrow wants a brain. The Cowardly Lion wants some courage. They have noble desires and their belief that the Wizard holds the key to getting these things motivates them on their quest. In the end though, they discover that the Wizard doesn’t hold the key at all. This Wizard, who everyone has feared and built up in their minds to be great and powerful, turns out to be nothing more than a frail man behind a curtain. He did his best with his smoke and mirrors to portray himself as larger than life, but was really nothing more than a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. When Dorothy and her friends discover the man behind the curtain, Dorothy tells him, “You’re a very bad man”, to which he replies “Oh no my dear, I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad wizard.” (You can watch the scene here if you haven’t seen it in awhile.)
How many times in my life have I placed my misguided hope in someone, giving them a God-like status, hoping that they have the ability to fulfill my desires, only to be disappointed when they turn out to be a flawed human just like me. How many times have I built a person or a situation up so much in my mind, until all I can see is this great and powerful floating head surrounded by fire and smoke. It’s a lot of power to give someone.
As it turns out, I suck at being a fortune teller. People surprise me all the time, and the outcome is usually nothing like I saw it in my head. I have foreseen outcomes full of compassion and understanding, and I have gotten guilt and shame, and I was devastated. I have foreseen outcomes full of condemnation and anger, and I have gotten grace and empathy instead, and I was amazed. But I am learning that it doesn’t really matter what the outcome is. What matters is that I am willing to bravely face the encounter regardless of the outcome. I will be OK, because I am worthy in my own right. In the end, Dorothy discovers that she had the power to get home withing herself the whole time, although she still had to go on the journey to discover her own strength. I have been on my own journey to discover my strength, and along the way I am discovering that the people who I have given so much power to along the way are good people even though they are not able to live up to the God-like status I have given them. They are good people. They just make very bad wizards.