While I was conversing with friends recently, I mentioned to them some of the thoughts that had been rolling around in my head/heart. One of them laughed at the intensity and layers of the subject, and then acknowledged that it gave her something to ponder since most days she merely had marbles rolling around inside her mind. 🙂
That gave me a chuckle, but I confessed to her – again – that my overthinking is not pretty.
I overthink by pondering more than praying … I overthink by considering opinions of all the people more than the Word/words of God … I overthink by leaving too much space for doubt in my mind instead of submitting to a God who has declared that His “thoughts are not [my] thoughts, and ways are not [my] ways” … I overthink by being distracted by what’s in front of me, rather than dwelling on the One Who resides with/in me … I overthink by adopting the microwave mindset about deep things that can only be processed in the crockpot of eternity. Oh my goodness. “What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Thankfully, the conversation with them made me face the reality that my overthinking has been in overdrive lately. (That’s a double negative in mindset language!) My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts as I take in lots of information at once. Yep, just like a plate of spaghetti noodles. The thoughts tend to be twisted around one another, stuck together but separate. They are thoughts with loose ends that can’t be tied up neatly. They appear in one place – that is, my mind – but they aren’t connected enough to bring me resolution or satisfaction.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a shelf within my reach that contains tidy boxes providing all the answers to life’s questions. We may live in the Information Age, but still I do not have the indisputable evidence I sometimes crave. You know, that one final answer that will settle it for all inquiring and doubtful minds. It truly pains me to read one of those agonizing conversations on social media. The ones in which no one can produce even one plausible explanation that would deflect the suspicions and cynicism of the critics. And there are so many layers to all.the.thoughts. New discoveries are being made in science, medicine, archaeology and more. With these discoveries, viewpoints take shape in brilliant minds. For some, previous impressions and beliefs are modified, adapted to make room for a new way of thinking based on the discovery.
Typically, western culture regards an open-minded person to be more humble, generous and kind. It is a characteristic that is equated with positivity and growth. And even though most people will acknowledge that having a completely open mind isn’t beneficial, I have found that the majority of people who consider themselves intellectuals/thinkers regard people as ignorant who maintain concrete beliefs.
“If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant. Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation. It will do both of you good.” Vera Nazarian
Though I completely disagree, maybe it was essential for me to acknowledge my “need to know” for what it really is. It is insecurity, steeped in fear and pride. I am way too concerned that someone else may have considered and discovered something I haven’t. And if they have, maybe that will prove that I am ignorant. At the very least, I will look ignorant. So I read and I wonder and I fret.
But is all this thinking and pondering and doubting and questioning good for my soul? Should it consume me, night and day? My answer to myself is a resounding no. There is no amount of contemplating that will fully satiate my craving for complete understanding of everything. I am beginning to relate more and more with the feelings Solomon had when he wrote about the vanity of life in Ecclesiastes. After all my musing, I’m often left with even more uncertainty. That is, until …
Until I am still.
And remember the one thing.
“When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless … until I entered God’s sanctuary.” (Pm 73)
We all deal with a certain amount of busyness. For some (like me) it’s a busy mind. For some, it’s busy days. Some are always busy with work. And some are plain ol’ busybodies.
Being still before the Lord doesn’t mean laziness. It doesn’t mean we are spiritual or physical or mental sloths. It means that we pursue and maintain a peaceful heart and mind and soul in the midst of our questions. Like Mary, we are to choose the best thing. Like the Psalmist, we choose the one thing. They both knew the importance of gazing on the Lord. There was a confidence in His presence. They wouldn’t suddenly receive answers to everything. No, it was much better. They would receive the presence of God Himself. At the end of all his fretting, Solomon even agreed with their conclusion.
In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and write words of truth accurately.
But beyond these, be warned: There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
So, I think I’ll stick with Solomon’s conclusion rather than Nazarian’s. I resolutely refuse to open my mind for the purpose of changing the fundamental tenets of my belief just because someone will think I’m ignorant. I realize I can’t answer every critical thinker who wishes to unravel the threads of faith woven through scripture (and Christian history). Nor will I be able to reconcile every perceived contradiction that the skeptics argue. And I am most certainly incapable of producing undeniable evidence for all the doubters who ask for a sign.
What I am able to do is to rest my soul in Christ. Because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me UNTIL THAT DAY.
Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?
But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2