«O Lord, You have searched me and known me» (Psalm 1 39: l ).
Many of human anxieties arise either from the desire to please others, the pressure from parents or the fear of social exclusion. The necessity of feeling loved and appreciated makes us show our best qualities and hide our defects or weaknesses. Others, in their desire to please or be in good terms with the others, modify their behavior at the expense of their beliefs or feelings. In 1951, Solomon Asch carried out a study in the field of social psychology to notice how one person’s opinion was influenced by these factors. The experiment consisted in judging some cards with lines of different sizes. The participants were asked to compare a vertical line in one card with three other vertical lines in a second card. The goal was to identify which of the three lines was similar to the first one. Without any difficulties, the participants managed to identify the similar lines with 99% efficiency. However, when the participants had to give their answers after some other members of the group gave their intentionally wrong answers (being the researcher’s accomplices), the participants also gave wrong answers in 37% of the cases, just to conform to the perception of the majority.
Why did the participants not give their own answer even if it was different than the answer of the others? Was it the fear of rejection? Was it because of the desire to please? Or was it out of necessity to feel in harmony with the rest ?
On occasions, the same fears appear in our relationship with the Lord. Sometimes, we perform «beautiful prayers» because we believe that this is how we can please God when, in reality, we are only giving «wrong answers.» It is useless to say «Thank you, Lord, for giving me so many blessings today» when, in reality, I wanted to show Him my indignation about evil and my absolute confusion because God apparently did not speak in favor of justice. Likewise, it is useless to utter a beautiful prayer when I need to cry out for power so that I do not make the same mistake again.
It is encouraging to know that we can present to God all our thoughts, with the assurance that He would not reject them or be offended by them. We can confidently say, «O Lord, You have searched me and known me. . .. You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether» (vv. 1-4).
Let us thank God because, despite the fact we do not always have good thoughts, He still loves us.