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'Open Your Windows' - Don't Overthink It

One of my greatest flaws is that I am a huge 'over-thinker'. I admit to it quite openly and easily because I am so aware of it, and determined to change. There's a song I've been listening to lately and the lyrics go "why why what a terrible time to be alive if you're prone to overthinking, and why why what a terrible time to be alive if you're prone to second guessing" (it's actually a really good upbeat song, not as miserable a that one snippet makes it seem I promise) - this line resonates with me so much because it emphasises what I already know: that I overthink and it's a waste of my life spending my time doing it. I don't know why I overthink, but I do - I've actually been known to overthink silences and convinced myself that I'd done something to upset someone and invented a fight that was never even there, the next time we spoke there was literally NOTHING wrong, I just overthought it. I have overthought about exams, when revising for them would have have better served me. I have overthought about jobs and money, when thinking would not help me to get either. I have overthought about missing trains and buses, when actually doing so would only delay me by 30 minutes and really wouldn't matter - and yet I worry about it like it's a life or death, den of lions kind of situation. Now I'm not suggesting that any of you reading this are over-thinker's to quite my level, but I do believe that there are things that play on your mind a lot, or worries and concerns that you sometimes allow to consume too much of your time. But I'd like to introduce you to an inspiration that is encouraging me to stop overthinking...

Reading the book of Daniel has been an incredible revelation for me, it's inspiring me, and influencing me and I love the role model I am finding in Daniel (see previous two blog posts - I'm a little obsessed with it at this point). So in Daniel 6 we hear the story I'm sure 90% of people who went to Sunday school associate with the book of Daniel: 'Daniel in the Lions Den'.

In this chapter, some people have decided that they aren't fond of Daniel and they try to catch him out and get him in trouble. "They could find no corruption in him" (Daniel 6:4) - which in itself is incredible, they could find no fault with him, nothing bad at all, nothing that would reflect poorly on him. How awesome is that? I know for a fact that if someone was trying to get me in trouble they'd have a thing or two they could say about me, and I'm not claiming to be a bad person, or admitting to corruption, but I am flawed and I'm not sure I would pass this test the way Daniel did. I challenge myself and you to live your life in the way of Daniel, so that no one could ever say anything bad about you, and if they ever did, no one would believe it. - Anyway, back to the story, the men realised they couldn't get Daniel in trouble unless they could make illegal, something Daniel already did. Everyday, three times a day "Daniel went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened" (Daniel 6:10) and he prayed to God. The men convinced the King to make it illegal for anyone to pray to any god or man apart from King Darius for thirty days. After this proclamation, the men announced to the King that Daniel had prayed to his God as he always did and therefore he had broken the law and should now be punished in the den of lions. Daniel was thrown in, but he survived because "God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions", Daniel was unhurt, because he trusted in God and he was protected.

For years I've heard this story, and only this time did I notice the 'open windows'. If I put myself in Daniel's shoes, I know I would have overthought everything. I would have thought about the consequences of being seen praying to God, I would have thought about alternatives to my usual habit, I would have been overthinking all day and worrying about what to do. And to be honest, I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I probably would have given in to my million thoughts. I think if I was Daniel and I was being threatened with a lions-den-death, I would have prayed discreetly, I would have sat in a downstairs room with no windows, or I would have prayed in my usual place but in a way that no-one could tell I was praying. I essentially would have over thought myself into a position of hiding my faith. But Daniel doesn't even stop to think (a concept that I can hardly even fathom), he doesn't flinch, he doesn't lose his nerve, he doesn't give in. He is unapologetically loyal and faithful to God. He has so much confidence that he KNOWS what he is doing is right, and he doesn't let even the threat of death-by-lions change that.

Daniel has such GREAT FAITH, such strength of belief, such confidence and assurance in God, that he doesn't second guess, he doesn't over think, he just goes on doing the right thing and he trusts that God has got it in hand. It's quite possible that when Daniel prayed that day, he prayed for God to protect him or keep him safe, maybe he told God he was scared, maybe he told God he needed help. But whatever those prayers were, whatever was said, he did it proudly, in an upstairs window where he could be seen by everyone walking past. He didn't overthink it, he just did it.

You know, of all the time I spend overthinking things, I'm positive that not one second of it has ever changed the outcome of events. It has wormed away in my mind, caused me stress and anxiety, it has upset me and hurt my wellbeing, but never once has it changed the way events play out. I know this, and yet it continues to be my greatest flaw. But knowing what I do now, knowing that Daniel didn't overthink when faced with a lions den, knowing that he didn't overthink when he was thrown in, knowing that he was faithful to God and trusted in convincing me that I can stop overthinking. I am also convinced that even if he had overthought it, the way I would have, he still would have been thrown in the lions den - those men had it in for him, they were going to get him in trouble even if it killed them (which in the end it sort of did, Daniel 6:24), overthinking would have achieved nothing but damaged the relationship between Daniel and God, or just caused Daniel unnecessary anxiety. Because of Daniel's example, I can throw open the windows and trust that God has got me, no matter what the day ahead holds for me. If I pray to him, give it all to him, and be unapologetically and openly faithful to Him, he will protect me from everything I could possibly overthink about, and probably a few things I never even knew were there to worry about.

After all, it's a terrible time to be alive if you're prone to overthinking, but it is an awesome time to be alive if you are prone to praying to God. I challenge myself and you, give it all to God, throw your windows open and shine His light, and He will protect you through every lions den you face. I am unashamed of my faith, and I plan to live my life with God in mind, rather than a million little thoughts that do me no good; so that I can pray with pride by the open window and not worry about what comes next.

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