Tag Archives: Indecision

Self-help Part 2 – Determining God’s will

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In Self-help Part 1 I talked about the quote “God helps those who helps themselves”.

The main points were:

  • This quote is not from the Bible,
  • We shouldn’t and can’t really help ourselves outside of God’s plan, and
  • We shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while waiting on God to make His move.
  • Finally, the quote was updated to the more correct “God helps us to help ourselves

So the question still remains:

How do we know what God wills us to help ourselves with?

The issue of doing God’s will is a challenging one for a lot of people, myself included. I’ve been asked by at least two friends recently how we can tell what God wants us to do. I personally have never heard God explicitly say “Beloved child, do X” That would make life super-easy, but would result in no maturation on our parts! For me personally, I have a few principles I try to apply in determining what God wants me to do in a situation:

  1. If the Word explicitly says what to do, do it.

    This one is pretty easy in terms of knowing if what you are doing is right or wrong. Knowing what is right is easy, doing it is tough! Often I know what is the right thing to do but don’t feel like doing it. We should try not to live by our feelings though, but by our principles. For example: you might not feel like being nice to a person who hurt you deeply, but God’s word says to love your enemies. No matter how much this person hurt you, shower them with love (note God isn’t asking you to go out of your way to be nice to the person or to even like the person, just to love them and be a good neighbour if and when the situation arises.)

  2. Let peace decide.

    If you don’t have peace about doing something, don’t do it. I like the amplified version of Colossians 3:16

    And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually)
    in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds,
    in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live].
    And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

    Whenever I have a tough decision to make, and I really am torn about what to do, I look for that feeling of peace. You may not like the decision but it’s the right one when God sends peace after making it. The last part of the verse is important too. Continue to be thankful no matter what situation you are in. Thank God for all the things that are right in your life instead of focussing on the difficulty of your decision.

  3. Pray for wisdom specific to the situation.

    Here’s a prayer that is guaranteed by God to be answered once we ask in faith.

    If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. – James 1:5-6

    When I have no idea what to do in a situation, when I’m unsure about something, or when I feel totally lost, I always pray for specific wisdom. For example, I’m in the process of preparing a huge document but did not know where to start. I asked God specifically for wisdom concerning where to begin and how much time to spend on each part of the project. Thankfully, my prayer was answered almost immediately. However, this verse does not say when God will send his wisdom. Sometimes you may actually need to go through a process to gain that wisdom. The process is useful because you learn and mature along the way, which is usually preparation for future promotion. Other times you miraculously just wake up with an answer. In both cases, God will grant you wisdom in perfect time once you prayed faithfully.

  4. Loving God, loving yourself and loving others.

    This one is just a bonus. Sometimes we just don’t have the answer. We have no idea what to do. In some difficult situations, I have felt like the Bible does not say something specific to my situation, no decision seems peaceful, and I’ve prayed for wisdom but have not received it yet. The situation thus becomes a waiting game and an exercise in patience. What do I do while waiting? I go back to number 1…

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

    If you are going to do what is right, it hangs on loving God and loving your neighbour. While waiting for answers from God, take your mind off the situation by going out and doing something nice for someone. Be a blessing to a person in need, or a person close to you that you might be taking for granted. In my experience the answers usually come when you’re distracted in being kind, which is a double reward.

    I hope this helps with the tough decisions coming your way!
    Angie

Battling over-thinking

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The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

Hi, my name is Angie and I’m an overthinker. 

I’ve always been an overthinker and it has been useful somewhat in academic situations. Up until now the only really bad consequence of this for me was indecision. After twisting something around in my head, measuring all outcomes, and most often mulling over all the negative things that could happen, I end up immobilized to act. The result is that I just don’t make a decision, or I avoid it long enough that I don’t need to.

Recently, however, indecision about something in my life resulted in getting me into a stressful and painful situation. Unfortunately, the stress and lack of control over my circumstances got me into a crazy cycle of over-thinking all over again. My thoughts (mostly negative about myself and the people involved) began to affect my mind, my emotions, my will and my faith. Over-thinking became for me a lack of trust in God, and left me trying to work out my problems on my own without Him. It became for me a fixation on everything that was wrong in my life, and not on the blessings I was still receiving. I isolated myself from God’s will and wisdom and ended up in the most spiritually dark place I have ever been. I allowed myself to feel hopeless and abandoned by God.

It took me months to get back to some semblance of normalcy but here are a few of the strategies I tried to avoid my disastrous habit of over-thinking.

Turn back your thoughts to God

I began to feel better when I started fixating my thoughts on God’s love and my desire to do His will, rather than focussing on my current situation. If I was going to over-think, I was going to do it on God’s terms. I consciously made an effort to think that God wouldn’t take away something from me unless He wanted to replace it with something better. It was tough believing it at first, so I wrote down a few affirmations and every morning as I woke up or when I went to bed at night, or anytime I felt negative thoughts rising, I would read them over and over until I felt inner peace.

Talk to someone…

I suggest talking to someone with similar values to your own who is willing to listen and support you in a positive way rather than being critical. For example, a well-meaning friend told me I was being irrational and I should just get over it. It was true that I was being irrational, but it only made me go back into over-thinking about how I could be rational. More helpful was when I was told it was okay to feel hurt, but not okay to dwell on the past or the future, neither of which I have control over.

… but avoid talking too much

In retrospect I think I talked to too many people. Constant talking about my problems only served to sustain my depression. In the same way, avoid situations that you know will lead to over-thinking. For me, trigger situations  included listening to love songs, watching romantic comedies or reading blogs on relationships (that was THE WORST!) Sometimes you may need to isolate yourself completely from the situation as well. If possible, take the opportunity to go on a vacation or stay-cation.

See the positive

It’s hard to foster a good attitude if all your thinking is negative. However, it’s easy to find a little blessing in a tough situation if you look hard enough. I tried to view my situation as an opportunity for growth rather than just a loss in my life. It was a wake-up call for me to acknowledge that I can’t keep going through life avoiding making tough decisions or they will be made for me. Perhaps God is preparing me for a big decision in the future with high stakes for success and needed me to address this fault in my character.

Distract yourself

My distractions tended to turn into blog posts. If I was going to over-think, then I may as well be productive about it. If you like writing, allow yourself a short time just to document your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be a blog post. It could be a small notebook or even scraps of paper that you don’t have to keep. Don’t spend all day writing though.  Get out and get fresh air, exercise and eat well. I found exercising helped a lot too because it helped me sleep at night. If you are not tired at bedtime, your mind is going to race. I made sure to work super hard at the gym so that my body will need the rest more than my mind would need to think. Other things you can do are to try a new hobby or do an activity on your bucket list.

Over-think the right things

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 

Ask yourself if what you are thinking about is true, noble, right, pure lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. If your answer is “no”, ask God to replace your thoughts with these things and rely on Him to work that change in your heart and mind.

So those are my strategies so far. Feel free to suggest in the comments any ideas you have for battling over-thinking. I love to hear from you guys 🙂

God bless,

Angie