Post by Kendria Smith
I have a pretty bad habit of “catastrophizing.” You could chalk it up to my overactive imagination, but I basically think of a “problem” that has not happened yet and may never actually occur, and dwell on it so much that the very implications of it become overwhelming. The seedling of my catastrophe start out as simple thought and can quickly lead to hours, days, even years spent agonizing to a point of, what I like to call, “analysis paralysis.”
For over a decade, I considered going back to school to receive a graduate degree. Unfortunately, every time I would begin my search for a specific school and program I was interested in applying to, I was overwhelmed by discouraging thoughts that kept me from making my goal a priority and taking any real action. What if I pick the wrong program and realize my interests lie elsewhere? What if I’ve already been out of school so long that I am unable to keep up with the requirements? What if I can’t handle the stress of work and school? Or what if I meet “Mr. Right” tomorrow and realize my goal is actually to settle down and start a family?
So many imaginary issues and so little time…
To get down to the very root of it, catastrophizing is based in fear…fear of the unknown. The truth is, we do not know what will happen or what God has in store for us, so we make up an ending of our own, sometimes to our own detriment. Now, as I am currently completing my first semester as a graduate student, I can admit that my studies take a lot of time and dedication, but I am fully enjoying my classes, learning to apply my education in real world situations, and the opportunity to stretch my faith beyond my comfort zone.
So, how can we learn to fight the paralysis of fear?
Remember Who You Are
As I try to juggle the responsibilities of working full time and a full course load of classes, there isn’t a day that I do not remind myself of what Paul declared in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” With God’s help, I AM A CONQUEROR. This verse has become my battle cry for the times when I feel like I am too overwhelmed to continue on. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t failed me yet!
Remember Who Is In Charge
When situations arise that seem beyond our control, don’t forget the One who holds the sun and stars in place and brings us safely to our beds at night. He is the same one who proclaims in Isaiah 41:10, “…do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Those are some pretty bold words from what I have learned to be a very mighty God!
Remember How Far You Have Come
If you have lived on this earth for any significant length of time, you surely have a testimony of something God has already brought you through. These experiences should be more than anecdotes you share with friends and family. They should be personal. These experiences are the evidence that we, as human beings, need in order to remind us that no matter the situation, God is faithful in seeing us through.
What have you been catastrophizing about lately and what will you do to step outside of analysis paralysis and start taking steps forward in faith?