Are you Overthinking? 5 Ways to Biblically Respond
If you need to ask yourself if you're overthinking, you've answered your own question.
Oftentimes, I get stuck in the legalism of religion, focusing so much on getting it right, that I lose sight of what's right. If I overthink an interpretation of scripture, I risk idolatry and greed. If I apply too little, it could lead to laziness.
Two of the deadly sins down, five to go.
I would rather be accused of over thinking than not giving something another thought and wondering later how I got into a mess.
Take a simple example like dinner. I don't just carelessly decide what to have for dinner on any given night. I look at schedules for the next week, figure out who can cook on which night and whether we've had a similar meal in the last two weeks and whether the meal would be more appropriate for a night in the next two weeks.
Then I recall what's already in the cabinets and fridge so I can pair ingredients or save the extra for a meal next week. I take into consideration the sides that will go with it and what will make good leftovers for lunches the next day.
Or, if I know money is tight based on the bills that are due that week, I'll need more casserole type food that can be frozen.
And this is just mind mapping like a slide puzzle during a boring meeting. Don't get me started on real overthinking that includes fear, panic, and back up plans for the back up plans.
Overthinking is a favorite past time for Introverts, like myself. Preoccupation of mind, soothes and comforts, like an old friend. Overthinking is a defense mechanism, but can also be a crutch.
I know I'm stuck in my head too much when I become irritable at the slightest interruption. My mind never stops churning, excavating facts from long ago to apply to current situations. All the while, revising stories and storing the revisions in just the right place so I can retrieve it later.
At the same time, instead of disposing of the seemingly superfluous fact, I schedule a reminder in my head to document the information in the appropriate work space on my computer.
This works great if I'm all alone in my introvert bubble. A BIG problem for me? If I get interrupted during that sequence, not only did I lose the documentation entry, I've probably lost the entire scene revision.
And that makes me irritable.
So while it looks like I'm only daydreaming, don't poke the bear. I'm actually processing and working and problem solving. I just haven't put it on paper yet.
Unfortunately, I can multiply this scenario by a dozen or two, that go on at any given time, and when I don't give myself a break and allow the freedom to NOT think, it leads to unhealthy behaviors. My poor husband.
When I get to that place where my personal space is lined with an electric fence, reminding people to proceed with caution, I know I need to step back and uncomplicate my world a bit.
Philippians 4:6-9 makes it so clear to me how I can take my mind from overthinking to rest:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Let's break it down:
Calm Down We are instructed to be anxious for nothing. I picture God with his hand up saying, "Stop. Just stop. Calm down." What ever it is that I think is so important to ruminate over, I picture God in front of me telling me to stop. Would I still keep going, trying to convince Him my worrying was valid? Not a chance.
Be Thankful I'm thankful to have the time, resources, and sound mind in order to overthink a situation. It means I have a job, or a family, or a car or something in my life to overthink about. It means God has placed something on my heart and mind of importance that He wants me to figure out. I have the honor and responsibility to remove selfishness from it and focus instead on seeking Him.
Ask Once After I stop running my problem through my hamster wheel and have taken time to thank God, I am more poised to let my request be made known. I can communicate the problem and ask God for direction, correction, and grace.
Be Still The part I miss most often is allowing the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This part of the verse reminds me I cannot lay it at His feet, then yank back the portions I think I need back. Once I've been obedient to the calls in the rest of this verse, I must sit back and allow the peace of Christ to cleanse and speak to my heart.
Calibrate Now that I have a clear mind, I can look at my issue with a fresh perspective. I can take my situation and reflect on whether the issue at hand seeks or provides truth, exhibits nobleness, justice, and purity. Is it lovely (endearing), of good report (spoken well of), virtuous and worthy of praise? Try asking yourself the opposite: is it false (can you find evidence of it anywhere in the bible?) or crude? Does it promote injustice and vulgarity? Is it vile, gossipy, indecent, or deserving of reproach?
I'm so grateful to have a Savior to lean on. Grateful that He cares for me and knows how quiet the chaos so I can focus on Him.
Are you an over thinker? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
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