There are many times I find I am my own worst enemy. I have a tendency to overthink everything: every problem, every plan, every idea, every moment…
Let me use a simple food analogy.
My thoughts start out as an unbaked breadstick.
Then I begin thinking. And mulling. And rolling the thought over in my brain.
Soon I begin doubting. I could never do his. I can’t possibly write that. There’s no sense in trying to do ___________ (fill in the blank).
My doubt and fear and anxiety begin twisting my breadstick thoughts around until I have a knotted up pretzel.
And I decide to give up on whatever grand idea I have. After all, what if I fail?
But… just as I am ready to toss my half-baked thoughts in the trash (or, worse yet, let them sit and rot as the anxiety turns to worry, the doubt gives way to depression for yet another unrealized notion), I remember the legend behind the invention of the pretzel.
The story goes that, some 800-900 years ago, a monk wanted to reward local children for learning their prayers. He came up with the simple idea of rolling dough into cylinders and twisting them into a shape resembling a child’s arms folded in prayer. These pretzels were then given to the kids who could recite their Our Fathers and Hail Marys.
Thinking about it, we can make pretzels without tying ourselves up in knots of doubt and anxiety. Indeed, pretzels can be a wonderful treat for any of us. After all, the pretzel is far better than the breadstick. It is more complex in form, flavor and texture. And not nearly as bland.
The secret to the pretzel being a source of joy rather than the product of agony is found in its folded arms. When we let doubt and fear creep in, we find our joy is stolen from us. Which is not what the Lord intends for us.
Consider the disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus was telling them what was about to happen.
And His words didn’t line up with their preconceived notions.
And, when Jesus was arrested and tried, at least zten of the twelve did the very human thing: they reasoned out what they saw with their eyes.
And they ran for the hills.
Instead of taking Jesus at His Word – even though they had seen Him heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, feed 15,000+ people with one child’s lunch, walk on water, raise the dead – the disciples opted to go with their feelings.
And what they felt was fear. Panic. Anxiety.
Jesus knew all this would happen. And He loved them anyway. He even made sure they understood they were protected and firmly in the Lord’s grip:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (ESV)
When we are thinking things through, we have no reason for doubt or fear. Instead of mulling over problems or plans and twisting them ’round and ’round, we should instead consider the folded arms of the pretzel.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Instead of drawing solely from our sorely limited bank of information, we hound seek first the Lord in prayer and His Word.
Instead of scratching our heads, we should drop to our knees.
Instead of leaning anxiously on our own understanding, we need to trust wholeheartedly in God.
Today, be bold. Be fearless. Do what you believe God has called you to do. Go with God, without fear.
Pray without ceasing.
Embrace God with your whole heart and mind.
Keep your joy. Keep His peace.
And live the life you were created to live.