It’s remarkable with what ease I’m able to conjure up lies when I’m in a situation of uncertainty. When I’m no longer in control, I generate untruths as fast as Jesus turned five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed 5,000.
Those lies normally stem from a single fact followed by a false assumption.
- He didn’t call me back. He’s probably mad at me.
- God isn’t answering this prayer. It’s probably because I don’t have enough faith.
- My boss wants to talk to me later this week. I bet I’m in trouble.
- No one commented on my blog. I should probably stop wasting my time writing because it’s not making an impact.
We are fantastic storytellers when it comes to writing an unhappy ending in the midst of foggy circumstances. Here’s what I’ve found most of the time: he’s not mad, it’s not your lack of faith, you’re not in trouble, and you are making an impact. The human mind is a terrible thing to let frolic in the swamp of falsified bad news. We quickly dive into the worst-case-scenario end of the pool, which is rarely (if ever) what’s actually happening.
How do we stop believing these lies? How do we stop over-analyzing limited data and turning it into a murder-mystery instead of a chance for a good opportunity? There are five things you can do.
1. Be patient
Not everyone is on your time schedule (especially not God). Not everyone checks their email 100 times a day, not everyone makes the extra effort to tell you you’re making an impact. So wait. Be patient. Don’t expect immediate results or instant gratification.
2. Stop worrying
No one has ever added a single hour to their life by worrying (Matthew 6:27). Worry won’t solve your problem or answer your questions. It’s not worth dwelling on the unknown with worry.
3. Pray through it
God hasn’t answered your prayer? Keep praying. Your boss hasn’t told you what the meeting is about? Pray for it. Your friend hasn’t returned a call? Pray that everything is ok with her (and between the two of you). It’s the opposite of worry–it’s taking action and trusting God in the midst of the unknown.
4. Focus on the facts
My boss wants to meet with me tomorrow. Leave it at that. Don’t try to fill in the gaps with your lack of information. You aren’t a spy–you can’t piece together the end of this puzzle based on one clue, Colonel Mustard.
5. Look for opportunity
One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, suggests in the midst of bad news (or in this case, just news), asking the question, “What does this make possible?” Don’t over think things, but don’t sell yourself short. No one is commenting on my blog. Maybe I need to ask them to contribute. My boss wants to meet. Maybe she just wants to hear how I’m doing. Don’t jump to bad conclusions, look for the possibility in the midst of unclear situations.