I like to analyze things; it’s just how my brain is wired. I enjoy the process of critically thinking over something in my head to find ways to improve it. I also peg the scale as an introvert according to the Myers-Briggs and, literally, every other personality assessment I’ve ever taken.
My favorite place to be is inside my own head, thinking on things. On paper, being highly analytical and highly introverted seems like a perfect match, except that sometimes the worst place for me is inside my own head.
I’ve struggled with having confidence most of my life. I’m probably more self-deprecating than is healthy, and, yes, I realize the irony this sentence inherently has. (I like irony.) A chief cause of my lack of confidence has come from over thinking, from analyzing too much. As with most things in life, you can go too far.
I began thinking about this the first time I read The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. The beginning of the book is an assortment of letters addressed to Lawrence. Big picture: These letters were part of a continuing correspondence between Lawrence and his friends. But taken just as themselves, they each carry a solid nugget of truth gleaned in a short amount of text.
“He remarked that thinking spoils everything and that evil usually begins with our thoughts.” [The Practice of the Presence of God, second conversation]
Sure, there is room for debate with this statement; however, I feel like the intended statement that our thoughts can often impede us holds true.
For me, over-analyzing kills my confidence before it can begin. It allows me to find reasons to doubt the outcomes of an event or myself. I go so far down the rabbit hole of planning for things that may happen that I eventually find something I decide I can’t handle, and then I fixate solely on that. Not to own it and move on, but to worry and stress. Once that misstep happens, I can do nothing but wait for myself to crash to a stop at the bottom of the hill.
I wish I could sit here in front of my computer and list a “Complete Guide to Avoiding This Issue.” But I can’t. Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV) Our understanding is limited. God’s plan is complex. We see one element of it from our own perspective. We know what He reveals to us.
The beautiful fact is, as believers, we are given the Holy Spirit within us constantly. The word picture often painted is of the Spirit living in our hearts. But often I have to ask Him into my head to get me out of it. When He is in my head and my thoughts, I’m not. My intellect pales so much in comparison to God that His presence overpowers me.
God pours into us, covering our weaknesses and allowing us to glorify Him through our actions. Maybe what Brother Lawrence was thinking was that when we hold tight to our own thoughts, it can keep us from looking for God’s. Maybe that’s how we get in our own way and also how we can get out of it. We stop focusing on what may happen outside of our control and ask Him to cover us and guide our responses to the situation.
We’ll never know what may happen, but that’s kind of the point.
This is a problem many of us struggle with. How do you handle the situation?
Photo credit: Gagan Sadana