So I’m at work, and my boss “calls” me on something entirely ludicrous – blaming me for something way beyond my control, implying that I should have had access to his thoughts, emails I wasn’t copied on, prior knowledge of the contradictory preferences and demands of people I’ve never met, exact pricing data of industries and products I’ve never heard of, company policies followed only by deceased employees, and yet-unpublished reports on the outcomes of future decisions of shadowy international corporate entities. And by the end of the sentence, it has happened all over again: the Justice Fantasy – a near-constant mental tendency to make myself out to be Mr. (Always) Right.
It usually starts small – just an imaginary conversation in which I “win” – but it can flare up to the point where I’m wishing for the chance to physically fight random dudes at a moment’s notice (weird, I know).
I suppose Justice Fantasies are the mutant spawn of self-pity and fear. This sort of thing finds its way into most areas of my life: in marriage, a self-righteousness that gets easily threatened and responds in anger; in thoughts about calling, a debilitating sense of entitlement; at work, a state of mind ruled by looking out for myself, rather than getting things done.
For me, the Psalms sometimes serve as examples of Justice Fantasies awkwardly finding their way into the Scriptures (the “Lord, since I haven’t done anything wrong ever, in thy justice, dash my enemies’ children’s heads against jagged rocks,” sorts of Psalms. Note: this is not a real Psalm). Oddly enough, these Psalms have given me ways to turn these Justice Fantasies into prayer. If nothing else, these sorts of Psalms show the validity of bringing these self-righteous/self-pitying thoughts to God without watering them down.
I don’t have time to look up the clinical psychology nuances, but the word “transference” comes to mind about these Justice Fantasies of mine. This is the idea that it’s usually my own acute fears of inadequacy that causes me to see (or invent) versions of those inadequacies in others.
If I embrace the self-revelation of transference, I don’t have to go searching for where God wants to work in me: it’s perfectly obvious from the Justice Fantasy itself. And unlike most times, I’m emotionally raw enough in the middle of that fantasy to hear a surprising word of peace, identity and freedom from Him.