Coinkidinks vs Faithful Fervor

At our AirBnB over Christmas, one of our guests managed to put a slight dent and cut in our stainless steel range hood.

They felt awful. Just awful, I tell ya.

The guests were a brother and sister. Their mom is staying in assisted living about 2 minutes from our home. They were able to celebrate Christmas here with a lot of their local family.

They swore that they would repay us for any amount that it took to fix it.

We were dubious that they were really going to pay for the damages. A brand new hood would cost upwards of $500 to $1000 with installation. How could we possibly ask anyone to pay that amount for a measly mistake? It wasn’t a HUGE deal after all. The hood works. It wasn’t going to hurt anyone.

But the guests insisted.

Problem was that we bought it at Ikea, and to get to the closest store is an hour and a half drive to Charlotte. You can’t just order it. You have to drive down. After a little digging, it looked like Ikea discontinued selling the one we bought. So we started looking for one with similar specs. What came up were slightly different sizes, primarily different chimney sizes. “If I can find one with the same chimney, it would be awesome, because all we would need to install would be the base part.”

By chance, we stopped into a local Home Depot, and on clearance, there was the exact same hood under the Whirlpool brand for $240 (marked down from $600). Our other Ikea appliances are Whirlpool if you look hard enough.

There were only two left. So we bought one, thanking our lucky stars that we found the exact same one, which meant we could do the work ourselves and not need to replace all the parts, just the base part where the damage was.

Another coincidence was that when the hood was installed, the contractor hung it so low that I kept butting my head on it. I cook every night, and when we’re in NC, it gets on my nerves. Raising it up would have been arduous, as we’d have to do some tile work on the backsplash. We left good enough alone for a 3 years, but the mistake lended a second chance to the initial screw up.

My dad and I were able to rehang the hood. My dad is a handyman, so he was able to get the tile we needed to complete the job.

The guests were thrilled with the cost and promptly repaid us the amount. They also wanted to gift us with a gift certificate. They know we love French culture, so they gave us a gift certificate to a local French restaurant owned and operated by a Frenchman.

They also wanted to drop it off personally as they were in town again visiting mom.

They stopped by and we loved every second. We seemed to have so much in common. And they loved hearing about the mysterious Easter eggs that Tina has planted all over the house. By Easter eggs, I just mean we have art up that all has stories to us, but most guests would be completely clueless as to the stories behind them.

There were too many other coincidences to count, and it was as if this blunder brought us together in such a positive way. It’s difficult not to think it’s some how more than chance. That a larger hand is involved. That God or Satan or the paranormal is at work, bending space and time to bring people together who otherwise would not.

But you know what it was? Dumb luck.

Coincidences are not proof of some outside agent. Coincidences are much more likely than we think. And we’re much more likely to think coincidences that happen to us carry more weight than coincidences that happen to others. There’s lots of scientific reasoning behind it, and it has to do with the study of coincidences, the data behind them, how simply not coincidental they can be and the human brain’s search for patterns.

A common coincidence is, “I was thinking about a person and they called me in the next minute.” Or “Bob was choking uncontrollably on Tuesday at 2, and he found out a loved one died around the same time of day of something lodged in their throat.” It’s coincidence that means nothing more than a similar thing happened to two different people connected by familiarity.

Read this article from the Atlantic for a better explanation.

That’s the thing. Many people base so much of their worldview on coincidence. I get it. I used to believe in them, too.

Within the confines of religious faith, coincidences held much meaning. Coincidences are seen as signs. Confirmations of divine existence. A deep dive into their prevalence in all cultures makes them less likely to point at one particular deity. I can say with some confidence that any deep exploration of different faith traditions will reveal very similar language and views about the specific deity the coincidence points toward.

Individually, we want coincidences to mean more, to justify certain decisions as providentially guided. But those are all rationalizations and declarations of purpose within the framework of pattern seeking.

I had written a much longer piece, including one of the best documented versions of coincidences feeding a person’s decisions that I’d read in a long time from former friend of this blog Julie Ferwerda. She posted to her Instagram account that she started blogging again here. She’s using the new blog as a place to discuss her exploration of her sexuality. You can read her new blog <— there.

Statistically and irrationally, coincidences are how many of us come to conclusions about the unseen. Just remember, you’re special, just like everyone else. Gosh, if only there were documented cases of real people experiencing real life making these kinds of contrived views of providential smiling on one’s egocentrism as proof.

Yawn. Stretch. Yawn.

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