Future Plans to Attempt to Control Outcomes
I’m the kind of girl who likes to have a plan.
Don’t get me wrong…I love adventure and spontaneity. I love having the freedom to explore and try new things. I thoroughly enjoy unplanned “play” in my life. An unplanned weekend? Ummm, yes please!!
But generally speaking, I love to have a plan and crave structure.
For me, there’s something so comforting about having a rhythm to my weeks and routine build into each day. I feel much more grounded and productive when I establish goals and objectives and create a plan to tackle and conquer.
Given the fact that I’m a planner, it’s probably not surprising to hear that when faced with uncertainty or situations that are completely out of my control, I have the tendency to tense up a bit.
OK, let’s be real...it can cause me to be more than tense. On occasion…it can lead to a mini emotional crisis and utter freak out.
Questions, Fears, Doubts: “Oh my!”
Uncertainty often causes me to fall victim to questions, fears, and doubts.
- I question how God can possibly spin my bad circumstances into something good.
- I question my path at times when life feels excruciating, enviously desiring the paths of others’ that appear to be much less rocky.
- I fear making a big decision, for fear of making the wrong one.
- I fear how my future may play out (generally jumping right to catastrophic “worst case” scenarios in an attempt to “protect” myself by mentally preparing for the unimaginable).
- I doubt God’s plans when He asks me to do something that requires more strength and bravery than I can fathom mustering up.
- I doubt my gifts, abilities, and usefulness to God’s grand plan (such as doubting my skills as a writer, encourager, and story-teller…wondering how God will ever make use of me to help others when my voice, presence, and influence is so small).
The Land of Anxiety: Familiar Territory
The anxious land of “questions, fears, and doubts” is all-too-familiar territory for me.
I know it well.
In fact, just recently I found myself smack-dab back in this place when I felt God was pushing me toward a new phase in my writing journey. I could sense God was pushing me toward hiring a writing coach to help me begin the process of book writing.
Almost immediately, fear consumed me. It caused me to act out of alignment with my truth and begin questioning and doubting God’s plansfor me.
I reeled back from His loving, gentle push forward. Instead of motivation and excitement, I was left with anxiety and vulnerability. I felt incredibly under-qualified and unprepared for the path to which I could sense He was leading me. I had many fears about what quite possibly lay ahead…to name just one: failure.
Immediately, the questions, fears, and doubts came pouring in:
- “Book writing? Me? Are you serious, God? Who the heck am I to write a book? Who would even want to read what I have to say?”
- “But God! I don’t feel ready!”
- “There are so many people who write so much better than me. Why do you even need me? I feel like I don’t have a clue about what the heck I’m doing.”
- “Have I misunderstood this call altogether? Is stepping into this book writing journey and hiring a writing coach truly the “right” next step? Or is there another direction you have planned?”
- “How will I know when I’ve found the “right” coach to guide me as You intend? What if I make a wrong decision?”
QUESTIONS. FEARS. DOUBTS.
These anxiety-producing little buggers continued to roll in at warp speed, nipping at my confidence and and turning my stomach into knots.
Are You Familiar With This Place?
Perhaps you’ve been in that place a time or two before as well?
You know…the place where:
- Unforeseen challenges, unknown future outcomes, or overwhelming tasks leave you immobilized by fear.
- You’re left questioning your abilities, fretting over possible worst case scenarios, and feeling incredibly under-qualified for what lies ahead.
- “What if”s and “how will I ever”s dominate your thinking and cause you to want to run for the hills.
- You want to do the right thing…but you’re not sure what that “right next thing” is. The next step forward looks daunting and you’re afraid to decisively move ahead…for fear of making a wrong decision.
Friend, have you been there?
Well, if you haven’t been there yet…I’m guessing at some point you will be.
It’s human nature to come a little undone when we are face-to-face with the all-too-true reality: we are not actually in control of what happens to us or the outcome of the future.
It’s completely natural to feel fearful when faced with uncertainty, huge life changes, difficult circumstances, or a rough and stormy season in life.
We Have a Choice in How We Respond
However, what God has really reinforcing in me throughout this season of life is the fact that we have a choice in how we respond to the things we face in life.
- Our reactions to the circumstances we face, yes.
- But also…our responses to our thoughts and emotions.
Let’s be honest: a lot of thoughts that pop into our heads are complete garbage…and many of our emotional reactions are tied to hurts and brokenness from our past.
So, it’s incredibly vital to play an active role in deciding for ourselves which thoughts and feelings we would like to entertain and ingest as “truth.”
It’s important to habitually remind ourselves:
We are not our thoughts. And we are not our feelings.
And we have a choice in how we want to respond to them.
But HOW Can We Keep Our Thoughts and Emotions in Check?
How do we take reign over our thoughts and emotions rather than allowing them to reign over us?
Particularly since they often feel soooooo real and true?
Well in my experience, it’s key to:
#1: Turn to God for help.
Because frankly, I often struggle finding my way out of dark places and grounded back in truth all by myself.
In the situation I shared above (wherein I momentarily allowed my feelings to drive me into an emotional freak-out around my future with writing), Iturned to God in prayer to discuss my fears and doubts. As I did so, I felt the Spirit prodding me to listen to a podcast.
The first podcast I “just so happened to stumble upon” (thank you, God) brought me out of the weeds by reinforcing this truth:
In Christ, I am victorious.
The podcast helped me remember that in addition to turning to God, it’s also important to:
#2: Make Excuses for Victory Instead of Defeat
Instead of making excuses for defeat (e.g., I can’t, I won’t be able to, I’m not able to, etc.)…I was encouraged to prophesy the promise of victory…no matter what lies ahead.
So I proclaimed truths, and reminded myself:
- While I may continue to face battles in everyday life, Christ has already won the war and I have nothing to fear. My future is sealed and my victory is certain in Christ.
- I can view my problems and the path ahead through the lens of Christ and his victory on the cross.
- Truth-filled thinking is to envision myself victorious over my problems and to see a future full of promise and hope.
- To praise God for what He’s about to do next…to faithfully lean in with expectation of the victories that await me in the future.
Begin Making Excuses for Victory
Friend, the next time you are faced with uncertainty or circumstances that cause you to feel anxious, I encourage you to turn to God to help you take reign over your thoughts and feelings .
Instead of allowing your thoughts and feelings to take control and catapult you into overwhelm or expected defeat, I encourage you to take back the reigns and proclaim this truth instead:
“I am victorious.”
Remind yourself that every issue…every situation…has already been assigned an outcome by God. You can trust Him to work all things out for good: even those situations in your life that currently seem dire and impossible. He won’t give up on you and will be with you through all things and all seasons.
If you are in Christ, so is your situation.
If you are in Christ: YOU ARE VICTORIOUS.
So, go ahead and proclaim it!
PROCLAIM YOUR VICTORY!!
May you remember: you are not your thoughts and you are not your feelings.
May you hold fast to the truth: you are victorious in Christ.
Be grateful. Be confident. Be radiant.
Podcast to Check Out
If you’re interested in diving deeper, I recommend checking out the podcast that helped me find my way to truth. You can listen to it here: Brilliant Perspectives, Episode 16: “If We are in Jesus, Then So is Our Situation.”