Are you the type to way over-prepare?
The villain is usually in the past. A bad experience with a task, event or trip where you were caught unprepared and something negative ensued.
So you dive headfirst into OCD. You overpack, you over prepare, you over-think, until you're exhausted and don't want to do whatever you were preparing for. You're ok with missing out on adventures because it's better than the possibility of being unprepared and not being able to do anything about it.
Let's start with some theology: God is always prepared.
The Psalmist writes, "God is...a very present help in trouble." Jesus said that our Father "knows what we need before you ask him." Jesus also told his disciples who would soon face persecution, "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious…for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.”
The anxious mind retorts, "So you're saying just throw caution to the wind?" Of course, not. There are many verses, particularly in Proverbs, about preparing for the future. What I'm calling you to ultimately is moderate preparedness. Here are four questions that should help. We'll use the example of a business trip, but you can do this with anything:
What do I need to know?
What information is vital to the basic success of the business trip? What minimally needs to happen for you to meet the goal of this trip?
What's the expectation? The job description? The names of the people I'm meeting?
What do I know so far?
What information has been given to you about the business trip already? What time is your flight, how long are you staying, where's the hotel, and where's the meeting?
If you realize there is something you need to know (question 1) that you do not already know (question 2) put your energy into finding that information.
What do I wish I could know?
These will likely be questions that there are no answers for like, "Will my flight be delayed?" or "What if the agenda of the meeting is changed at the last minute?" Write a list of things you wish you could know.
Now, save the list since you will need it for question four, but circle the first three questions you wrote down. These are likely the questions that are causing you the most anxiety.
For your own sanity allow yourself a Plan B for these first three questions. Not a Plan C, D, E, F, etc. Just one back up plan for your top three questions.
- If the flight is delayed, I'll go back to the office and apologetically do the meeting over Skype.
- If the agenda is changed last minute, I will have a short version of my presentation prepared.
- If my baggage is lost, I will stop at the store by the hotel. I have googled the location of that store and saved it in my phone.
What does God know?
What you're going to do here is go through your entire list from question three and praise God that he is prepared for each potential hazard you've recognized. Rewrite the list starting each entry with "God knows."
Maybe the fourth entry on your list was, "What if my presentation slides won't work?" Now, rewrite that entry "God knows how to orchestrate this business deal, even without my fantastic slides."
If you wrote down 100 things, then you're going to praise God for the 100 ways he's already prepared on your behalf. Trust that, should anything on your list happen, he'll give you the coping skills you need at the moment you need them since he's always ready and always able.
Since God is prepared for anything we don't have to prepare for everything. We can enjoy the peace of mind that moderate preparation bings and the peace of mind that God already knows what we're going to need ahead of time.