immediately – it may not be what God wants. He usually gets His way. So, if it’s not being overcome right now, there’s probably a reason why not. Another one was, to think that wanting them to pull it together might be a foolish demand on my part, that being the case – that I don’t know how God is working. His ways are higher than mine. And the other thing that I thought – when I would catch myself thinking all of this stuff – was that I’m just the shepherd, not the sheep owner. I’m there to encourage, and help, and show the way, but I can’t make people go the way they’re supposed to go.
And then E stands for effect. Everybody is able to learn what they need without my internal demands. That’s how I started to believe. And, that I’m able to help and support people without vomiting – that was another effect that started to happen. I got over that completely. It’s been since…what? ’75? So that’s what? 40 years? It does work, if you work it.
Now, let’s think a little bit more than outside the scope of my particular problem and just look at some generalized thoughts about the kind of thinking that causes problems.
The first one we could call demandingness, or a good word for that would be absolutism – sort of that inflexible, dogmatic, extreme beliefs that are usually signaled by words like should, must, have to, or need to. “I should be able to help them,” “I must help them, if I’m a good person” – that sort of thing. “My congregation should follow my advice” – should would be with a capital S. So, instead of that, I started thinking, “God has a plan and I should just watch and learn.” It took quite a bit of pressure off of me.
The second area that we can think about is the demand for love and approval – and that would be from nearly everyone we find important – you know, “Oh, she doesn’t love me. Eat worms and die!” Instead, maybe we could think, “Loving someone involves risk.” And so we have to be prepared to suffer loss, if we’re going to be a loving person. The Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear. People become courageous when they have perfect love.
A third one might be the demand for success or achievement in things that we find important – you know, somebody might say, “I must pass the graduate record exam,” instead of, “If I keep trying, I can probably pass it.” That’s a lot more realistic, isn’t it? I know when I went to take my LPCC exam, one of the best bits of advice I got was from my mentor, who said, “Well, just think of it as taking the first one for practice.” Of course, I got fortunate and didn’t have to, but it’s so much easier to not be so demanding, like we have all the power in the world and can make things happen the way we think they should happen.
And then there are some ways of thinking about things, too, that can be generally categorized. One I like to think about is awfulization or catastrophizing, disasterizing – 100% believing that something is terrible or awful or a catastrophe when the Bible tells us everything is a mixture of good and evil – not just all bad or all good. So, lose that. The GRE, for example – “It’s a catastrophe that I failed it.” Well, maybe we should think down the path that God is with us and that He’s going to be able to help us, even if we don’t pass it. One way or another, things will work out for the best.