My daughters second birthday is at the end of March and I've already begun planning the party. I'm working out the theme, coordinating the guest list so every child has a friend and crafting a menu to please most the guests. In the back of my head there's a voice asking if all the work is really worth it.
We could just as easily have a family only meal in a restaurant for a third of the cost, or fly to my parents place for a week for what I've budgeted for her birthday do.
I'm not sure if I'm planning such a huge party as penance for the guilt I feel for being completely unprepared for motherhood. Or maybe it's an apology for all the yelling I've done during her second revolution of the sun. I’ve felt like an automated service yelling, "Take that out of your mouth," "Get off the cat he's not a horse!" “Take that out of your mouth,” "Look with your eyes, not your hands," and did I mention, "Take that out of your mouth!!!!" Or maybe I just want to celebrate that I have made it two years without sleep and we are still alive.
Maybe I want such a big party because I really love my little girl and want her to have an amazing second birthday. She loves to be around other kids and having a house full of them always brings her great joy, so a big party would be perfect for her.
I’ve spent ten days turning ten different themes into one, “Munchie’s favorite things.” It could have just as easily been a penguin, balloon, shoe, cars, beach, ice cream, strawberry or pizza theme party, but favorite things covered them all.
I’ve spent a lot of time working out the details, but also weighing up my motives so that I do the right thing for Munchie on her birthday.
I once read a quote that said, “A life unexamined is a life unlived,” but I’ve got to state that “A life over examined is a frustrated life.”
Over thinking can be more toxic then not thinking at all. Over contemplating what decision to make next, what subject to study or whether to proceed or not can paralyze an individual causing them to become immobile. I’ve often been afraid of making the wrong decision or doing the wrong thing but I’ve discovered that doing nothing can be worse than the two afore mentioned actions.
Don’t get me started on over thinking about other people’s words or actions. Thinking too much about what someone said, or what someone did, trying to ascertain someones motives is like trying to lick the small of your own back. It’s never going to end well.
As a general rule, I assume that everyone likes me and is genuinely kind and nice. That way if someone says something nasty, I assume that it’s a misunderstanding or they didn’t mean it the way it sounded. If it’s someone close to me, I may ask them what they meant, but being in pastoral ministry for almost a decade has taught me to not to over analyze what someone says.
When I was a teenager, my girlfriends and I would spend hours trying to work out what a boy meant by what he had said to us.
For example, “He said, like, he wanted to play basketball with his friends on the weekend.” Then the analysis would begin.
“I think that he is totally playing hard to get,” one helpful girl would state.
“Totally!” another would agree, “he’s like showing you that he likes you but he can, like, maintain other relationships too. He’s like totally into you.”
“I think he’s confused,” another girl would quip, “he’s like hot and cold, like he’s into you but he’s like trying to be cool with his mates, so he’s gotta play basketball on the weekend because he doesn’t want to show them how into you he is.”
It would go on for hours, the smaller the statement from the guy, the longer these analysis sessions would go. What no one ever said was, “He’s a teenage boy with the same higher functions as a baboon in the wild, he just wants to play basketball, he probably hasn’t thought about you since he told you he was going to hang with his mates and he probably won’t think about you again till he sees you Monday morning. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he’s just not over analyzing the universe like a teenage girl!”
My point is this, there is a time for everything under the sun, there is a time to analyze and a time to accept at face value, there is a time to think and a time to act and our job as humans is to determine when to do what. To celebrate our victories and to not beat ourselves up excessively when we fail.
Life is amazing and it is best experienced with adequate thoughtfulness and impulse, love and withdrawal, acceptance and analysis, fear and bravery.
So if your thought patterns are making you miserable, retrain your thinking. The prophet Isaiah said, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)” The only person who has any control over your feelings and thoughts is you, so take hold of them and bend them to your will. It’s not the circumstances of our lives that make us feel the way we do, it’s the thoughts we use to evaluate our circumstances. So reevaluate your circumstances. Look for the good in all things, and forgive those who have hurt you, set yourself free.
I’m going to enjoy Munchie’s birthday party and I’m going to enjoy the planning process. I’m going to stop analyzing the why and celebrate that our family continues to grow in love daily. Life may not be perfect but our life is pretty great.
I hope you find what is great in your world today.