The Lie of Over-Processing

Maybe it’s just me that struggles with “over-processing.”

Or overthinking.

Call it whatever you want.

The point is, I think about things deeply. My brain never shuts off. It’s how I’m wired. Everything in my life has always has meaning, no matter how insignificant or simple it might seem. And that can be such a gift when it comes to looking at people and the things Jesus is doing in their lives.

But like with any gift, it can also be used to hinder and distract me from what the Lord is actually doing. I felt something a little similar at the beginning of Sophomore year, thinking about how I press into my emotions instead of Jesus. I feel like I keep learning the same lessons over and over, just in slightly different ways. I’m learning and growing, I guess I just haven’t arrived yet. Then again, when did this become about the destination instead of the journey?

My dad explained it as playing a whole game of chess in my head when I’m thinking about the next move: “if I move this piece then they could move that piece or that one,” “maybe I should move that one instead,” “I don’t want to move the wrong piece and regret it two moves later”. . .

Basically a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately boils down to this: when I don’t process things with Jesus, or when I over-process/overthink things, it leads to the re-surfacing of a lot of fear.

When I submit things to the Lord and He speaks into them, there is always a lightness, a clarity, and an “aha” moment, even if I don’t totally understand or like what He’s saying.

I can tell if there’s a problem when pressing into things is confusing and overwhelming. When it feels like pieces that don’t fit together. When it feels like fear. I know it’s not the Lord when I’m thinking more about things than what is actually happening. Or when I’m talking more about things than I am submitting them to Jesus.

People say all the time that we need to sit and wait and listen for the Lord. And that is so true. But waiting on the Lord is never passive. It never breeds fear or confusion. It always leads to freedom and life. His yoke is easy, remember? It’s the Enemy who would love for us to get wrapped up in our heads about whether or not what we are doing or saying is right, or enough, or really the will of the Lord.

The beautiful thing about the love of Christ in my life is that it frees me to live. We are free to be human, continually transformed by His grace. We are free to embrace our failures because they don’t define us and they lead us to new places of humility.

I think back to the “failures” of Abraham. Even when he made decisions without pursuing the Lord first, God was still very much in them. He’s bigger. He’s always been bigger! We have to have a view of God where His love, sovereignty, and omniscience are bigger than our humanity. Bigger than our emotions. Bigger than our fears. Bigger than my fears.

Waiting upon the Lord doesn’t mean I have to sit and process until I understand everything. Seeking the Lord doesn’t mean I have to have all the answers. But, if I’m honest, that’s often how I act. We wait and seek with freedom, childlike faith, joy, and security in His love.


So what are we afraid of? What is my overthinking mind so afraid of?

Am I afraid that I’ll be rejected? Because I’ve already been accepted by the King of Kings. And if I’m rejected by people, it will be a place of humility, which will probably dethrone some idols in my heart if it means that much to me. Or that I won’t be perceived well? Well, that’s a fear of man and not God. If I’m overthinking what others may be thinking about me, there are very few more worthless ways of spending my time. Not only am I not living in the security of my identity in Jesus, I’m focusing so much on myself that I’m missing what the Lord is doing in the lives of other people. I miss the opportunity to see it, be blessed by it, and encourage them in it! Am I afraid that I’ll make the “wrong choice” or do the “wrong thing?” Then I’m not living in an understanding of the grace of the Lord. If I’m pursuing Him in everything, then I have to trust in His superiority and providence. While I need to be listening for His voice and the nudges of His Spirit, if I can’t read other people’s minds, how much less can I read God’s? I’m never going to figure out what He is going to do, so I might as well focus on seeing His movement and grace in the moment and stop trying to “process” what the next move is going to be. He never fails. He never leaves. I don’t have to be processing things to be seeking Him. I should be seeking His will in Scripture and in prayer, not in the circumstances of my life that I don’t understand. We all know that He loves to be found by those who seek Him. What an awesome God we serve and are loved by.

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