About every three years, I re-read Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It helps me stop the busy swirl of life churning around in my head and organize things a bit. I’m in the midst of one of these re-reads now.
One of her recommendations is Stop wondering. Wondering, she points out, is “to be filled with curiosity, puzzlement or doubt.” Not an optimal state. In her blunt, no-nonsense style, she says:
“I have come to learn that I am much better off doing something positive than just wondering all the time about everything imaginable. Instead of wondering what kind of grades my son will get, I can believe that he will make good grades. Rather than wondering what I should wear to a party, I can decide what to wear. Instead of wondering about the weather or about how many people will attend one of my meetings, I can just turn the matter over to God trusting him to work all things out for good regardless of what happens.”
Believe. Decide. Turn it over. Trust. Those are some good options.
Since this caught my attention a few days ago, I’m STUNNED by how much I wonder. It’s all over my writing like measles (I can’t even bring myself to do a word search to verify the numbers), and I say it all the time in conversation. I spend hours in the middle of it, just mulling things over and telling myself I’m preparing for different possibilities when the truth is that most of these mullings don’t prepare me at all.
One could say that I’ve discovered how wonder-full I am! Too bad it’s not a good thing :)
The most egregious use of wonder I’ve discovered in myself is a conversational tic I picked up in church circles. I realized a few years ago that I never said, “I think” anymore. Ever. I started all opinion or suggestion sentences with “I feel like” or “I wonder if.” It was ridiculous. I think (see, I’m getting better!) I picked this up from being in places where identifying and owning your feelings was given a lot of play, and conversations were rarely straightforward. Saying, “I think it’s a mistake to go on a second date with the guy who stole your credit card to buy new rims for his car,” was seen as pushy and bossy, whereas saying, “I feel like maybe you should consider a different choice…” or my go-to, “I wonder if God has something better for you?” was not, because it suggested that what I said was just my feeling or wondering, not me expressing a contrary opinion about the loser felon with the blinged-out car.
Don’t get me wrong – these conversational choices probably steered us all around all manner of aggravations and fights. Christian culture has a grim through-line of strong personalities bashing people with their take on how one should be. It’s good to be a little bit aware of your word choice. But I think we overcorrected. For me, this lead too much wondering: about what to say and how to say it, how not to offend anybody, ever (as if any sentence structure could save me from that). And a persistent feeling that I was being dishonest, or at least not very forthcoming. It was a mess.
And it didn’t work. People see right through this sort of subterfuge. So I decided (!!!) to to stop hiding my opinions under a pile of feelings or wondering and say what I think, no frills attached. And to believe that if my opinion of the person I’m talking to really is respect and love, they’ll know that from the entirety of our interactions, and it won’t be crushed by a disagreement. (And, as my friend Pascha taught me, if my opinion of the person ISN’T respect and love, perhaps I should shut up and trust God to either change me or send someone else to speak.)
I’m not great at this yet, but I’m working on it. And now I see that the wondering has seeped into other areas of my life. Think of me today as I open the draft of my latest manuscript and go on a wonder-hunt, swatting and smushing that silly word and scanning thesaurus.com for better options! Because a little bit of wonder goes a long way.