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Is "Overthinking" a Blessing or a Curse?

How I turned my excitable stream of consciousness into a daily devotional practice.

I used to think I had an overactive mind, like it was some kind of disorder. It just never seemed to turn off. One day after a particularly obnoxious amount of thinking, I googled overactive mind disorder. When no legitimate medical results popped up within the first page of search results, I breathed a sigh of relief.

With a clear prognosis, I perused the rest of the results and found I was in good company. Though I don't share all their worries and concerns, the Google search returned hundreds of stories from people whose overactive minds made my excitable stream of consciousness seem mild.

Anyway, all of this is to say I over-think things. A lot. But when all I hear is my own voice repeating my own problems over and over, I have little space to hear God's voice and the encouragement and direction he has for each day.

To help create margin in my cluttered mind and so I can better experience the presence of God throughout my day, I've developed some strategies:

1. Start each morning by "receiving the day." This means turning my heart toward God, giving each day to him (Psalm 74:16), and receiving his agenda, with all its joys and frustrations, instead of obsessing over mine. What this looks like for me is sitting for one minute with my hands palms up and asking God to help me think the way he wants me to think today. I also take time whenever I'm doing something routine and frequent, such as washing my hands, to reopen my hands and my heart to God. Doing this helps me recenter my day around him who is before all things and in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).

2. Take a break from music and other media. Instead of distracting myself from life as I go from one thing to another, I now use my driving time to transition and process in silence. I turn off the radio and pray about what I'm driving to—whether it's about being sensitive to the friend I'm meeting or something else. Sure, I'm not up to date on the top 40 hits, but is that such a bad thing? The silence has helped me create space to notice beautiful things as I drive around town and it helps me hear God better.

3. Look at the sky at least once a day. This handy tip comes from Mma Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. She's a fictional detective living in Botswana who has surprisingly deep insights into life. She often takes time to look at the endless skies in Botswana as she thinks about life and the cases she must solve. I started noticing the sky a lot more as I read these books last summer, and I realized there is something humbling and quieting about looking outside your world and worries to the beauty of the sky.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2012, November
Posted November 5, 2012

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