Do the best that you can because this life is all that you have been given. Make sure to give your all today because tomorrow has not been promised to you. Both of those statements swirl around in my mind and heart. Over-analyzing or over-thinking is one of my innate abilities, which tends to become a form of quicksand without accountability. There is something inside of me that wants to figure things out in order to make the best decision. In fact, if I am really honest with myself, I want to know all of the angles in order to make the perfect choice. Before I applied to graduate school sixteen years ago, I kept turning over the possible difficulties and challenges within my mind. I knew nothing about graduate school in Los Angeles, but I created an illusion of it well before my four-year immersion.
Now, it is one thing to have nerves about moving across the United States. It is something else entirely to create an illusion of it in the mind in order to solve or embrace anticipated or perceived challenges. Fantasy worlds are best kept on the page or on the big screen. I am reminded of the saying, “live out of your heart not your head.” This hits at a key truth: passion. What drives me to do the work that I do? Where does the motivation come from in order to love my wife? Why do I embrace the Lord and his word with such intensity? Each of these questions has its answer in the heart. If my heart is not into something or someone, then there is no hope for me. When it is difficult to write another sentence, passion must be present to persevere. If I lack the right words to express my heart, then something must take over inside of me in order to stumble through my emotions.
Where does this place over-thinking? I think it is like a bucket of water dumped on fire. Over-thinking kills the passion to pursue someone or something. It is necessary to assess the pros and cons of a key decision: choosing between to job offers, where to live, who to marry, going back to school, and the like. When I continue hashing out the options without moving forward with a decision, I start living out of my mind rather than my heart. This behavior is a passion killer. It is like going to a well to draw drinking water only to pour it onto the ground. Why would I do that to myself? Underneath the over-thinking is the desire or the need to be perfect. I might believe that I’m being responsible, and it is more than likely that I started out that way. At some point, the over-thinking leads me away from the reality of responsibility and into the fantasy realm of perfectionism. This is not an easy transition to spot on my own. It requires the help of others to notice the crossover.
Big, life decisions always stir up fear and anxiety about the future. I remember feeling those emotions sixteen years ago as I applied to graduate school. Those same emotions bubbled up six years ago as I exited the public school system for the corporate sector. In fact, 2008-2009 had been one giant test of trust in God as I faced fear and anxiety about the present and the future. It was too easy to over-think rather than put together a plan in order to move forward. My inner circle of friends walked alongside me through this time. If I had not invited them into my life in the first place, none of them would have battled with me. Sometimes I think the word community is overused in our culture; however, back in 2008-2009, my community was my life preserver. I hung on for dear life as the wind howled and the waves churned all around me. All of this brings me to where I’m at as I write this entry.
The winds of change howl once again as the waters rise. It is no surprise that perfectionism plays a peek-a-boo with me. Truth be told, my life is not a game. I cannot afford to treat it this way. My wife is in my corner for support. She also provides an honest perspective into my thinking process. To her credit, she called me out on over-thinking. Like I said earlier, this is a passion killer. It is crucial to open my heart to the Lord, to my wife, and to those in my life. I do not live in a vacuum or on a deserted island. I will end with the following words from the one of the Psalms: “4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:4-5, ESV). The fifth verse hits me like a ton of bricks.