“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3: 5
I’m not a tattoo kind of girl, but if I were, this is the phrase I need written across the palm of my hand. Maybe that way I’d see it all the time and remember that no amount of thinking can change anything, because it’s my over-thinking that tends to get between me and God. Seriously, I could save myself a lot of worry, stress, and heartache if I just stopped thinking about bad things that have already happened and instead just trust God to lead me forward.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
If it does, it’s probably because women are especially prone to over-thinking, or, as it’s been properly termed in psychology, “rumination.” When I first learned of that term while doing research for my memoir, I thought of a cow chewing cud, and sure enough, it’s the same word and same concept – rechewing something over and over, even after you think you’re done with it. That may be the correct way for a cow to digest, but for women, it’s a terrible way to digest – or process – an experience. Instead of moving forward, rumination keeps us trapped in focusing on why a bad thing happened, instead of looking for solutions to avoid it next time around.
It’s a hard habit for women to kick, because women also tend to judge themselves more harshly than others. I know I was raised to be independent and self-reliant. Those are American virtues, after all! As a result, I often think I’m in control, relying on my own “understanding” of a situation, but as the author of Proverbs points out, that’s a mistake I won’t make when I trust in the Lord with all my heart. Note that the Scripture doesn’t tell us to trust in the Lord with all our mind; I’ve been down that road, too, trying to find God through study and intellect, and while I knew a lot about God, I never felt like I really knew God as an intimate friend.
That’s when I realized that all the book learning in the world does not substitute for a real relationship. Trust is about becoming vulnerable to another being, about interacting on a personal basis. It requires paying attention to the now moment, since the present is where we experience God’s presence.
That means that, if we’re deep into rumination, obsessively focused on thinking our way through the past or trying to mentally control our future, we’re missing out on God’s powerful presence right here and now. Yes, God has given women wonderful brains to use – and we should! – but we need to temper our head-strong impulses with a deep heartfelt trust that God is always for us. When we trust in the Lord with all our heart, we don’t need to ruminate, because our past, present, and future, are safe in His care.
“He has promised, and He will do it.” Hebrews 10:23
Besides, chewing cud is so unattractive, don’t you agree?
Jan Dunlap is the author of the humorous memoir Saved by Gracie: How a rough-and-tumble rescue dog dragged me back to health, happiness, and God, and the laugh-out-loud Birder Murder Mystery series. The mother of five grown children, Jan delights in finding God and laughter in the everyday moments of life to share with her readers and audiences.
Jan welcomes visitors to her website at jandunlap.com and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birder-Murder-Mama/126389054114777?ref=hl or @BirderMurder on Twitter.