Confession: I’m an “overthinker.” I even bought a book titled Women Who Think Too Much. Honestly, only someone who is an overthinker would buy this book, right? I didn’t get through it however because I realized a few chapters in that the writer was also an overthinker. I tossed it aside, vowing not to be this kind of person so I didn’t have to read books about it.
So when I came across this verse in The Message, it stopped me in my tracks and my overthinking tendencies kicked in full force: Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I am speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6: 10-13) There are those times when the Bible doesn’t bring me comfort, peace, or a shower of warm emotion. Instead, I feel hit over the head and I begin to think, think, think. So I will take you down the road of an overthinker.
First step of an overthinker, questions: “Am I living a wide-open spacious life?” “Do I even know what this might look like?” Have I fenced myself in?” and the final, haunting question, “Am I living small, when that is the exact opposite of how I have been created to live?”
Second step of an overthinker, evaluation: I began to list the ways in which I might have fenced myself into a small life:
I control my schedule so that there is little for spontaneous relationships or new and different opportunities
I have surrounded myself with people who mostly think and look like me
I only give to others – either time or money – from my leftovers
I make my life safe and comfortable by accumulating more and more stuff
I don’t like interruptions
I never consider the possibility that the previous five things might be a little disappointing to God.
Third step of an overthinker, more questions: What should I be doing differently? Should I restructure my commitments? Meet new people? Give some things away? Take more risks? Change my focus? Soon my head is spinning with the thought that I’m missing something blatantly obvious and terribly important. More thinking. More questions. More evaluation. From the few chapters I read in my book, we overthinkers can actually think ourselves out of action. It’s one of the hazards we face and so we must be on the alert for – what else – too much thinking, not enough doing. So here is Paul pleading with the Corinthians to open up, live large, pour out, and possess extravagant affection so people can see how expansive God is. He doesn’t give in small ways – whether it’s grace, wisdom, or peace. He doesn’t close Himself off to anyone or any possibility. God dwells in wide open and spacious places and He is inviting me in to live in these places with Him. I have a choice: I can either think it to death, or step in. I don’t know exactly what this will look like, and I have to stop myself from going too far down the road and trying to figure it out (the author says we overthinkers do this also). But I’m ready to embrace expansiveness and leave behind small living. And that’s a good thought.