The pendulum between catastrophe and optimism

I sat in my house not knowing which direction to take. I had no guarantee that I could ever recover from the mistakes that I had made. In my experience, my actions were unforgivable. People like me were usually written off, forgotten, and ignored for the rest of eternity. Overcome with hopelessness and shame, I nervously paced each room of my empty house. The only thing louder than the desolate silence were the thoughts that came across my mind. 

“My marriage is over.”

“My friends and family hate me.”

“I will never recover from this disaster.”

“I’m better off dead.”

My mind felt like a boom-box with a broken volume-button. The thoughts that blared in my mind came fast and hard They seemed like they would never end. To make matters worse my heart began to act erratically. It seemed to have dislodged itself from its proper position, underneath my sternum and found its way to my throat. My head too began to throb in syncopated beats with my heart. They both seemed ready to explode at any moment. “Perhaps sudden death by a heartache might work out for the best,” I thought to myself. But much to my disappointment, death did not arrive. 

I became more delirious as the hours passed. I’m not sure if it was the lack of food, lack of sleep, or adrenaline from the events of the night before…..  but the thump of my heartbeat began to transform into a grandiose level of optimism. 

“She’ll forgive me.”

“I’ll recreate life and move on.”

“This problem will go away on its own.”

“No one else will ever find out.”

But as the pendulum of my senses swung back and forth, it eventually rested on reality… and reality told me that there was still hope for me. 

“The road ahead of me is going to be a difficult one.”

“I’ve made a mess of things, and I need to take responsibility and work on me.”

“There is a chance that she might not take me back.”

“I’m confident that God’s presence will never leave me.” 

After falling on my knees in prayer, I picked up the phone and made a call. My friend was frank with me. He didn’t paint me a pretty picture, but he left me with a message of grace and assurance. At his recommendation, I made the choice to take responsibility for my circumstances. Nevertheless, I knew better than to turn this event into an identity. I was determined to mark that day as the start of a breakthrough. 

The events of this day taught me a few things that I carry with me to this very day. Allow me to share them with you.

  • My mind has mastered the creative art of imagining catastrophe. 

For some reason, my mind has a tendency to imagine “the worst-case scenario” every time that I face adversity. In fact, it is so creative that it will make the script of any blockbuster movie appear to be amateur in comparison. My mind is a master of tragic trajectories. However, in all my 41 years of experience at life, I have never known these trajectories to be accurate. 

  • Chaos also provides the possibility of a story-book outcome. 

The optimistic mind will always see good and opportunity in the worst of situations. And truthfully, there is always an opportunity for a positive outcome in any given situation. Nevertheless, the chances of such a glorious ending are not always of a high probability. Which leave us with the following: 

  • The center and most probable of all outcome is reality…. and reality requires work

Catastrophizing thoughts drive-up my anxiety levels like no other. When facing them, I have learned that the best thing for me to do is to combat those thoughts with “best-case scenarios.” Although they might be highly unrealistic, they will cause the pendulum of thinking to return back to reality….. and reality becomes the place where grace, opportunity, and self collide. It is in reality that we are empowered to become all that we were created to be. 

Unapollogetically yours,

John Eli


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14 Comments

  1. I loved the demonstration of the contrasts of how our thoughts work. Refreshes me on the need to do as scripture says: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). The power of our minds affects everything we do & think trickling down into our hearts. THANK YOU for reminding us to always choose REALITY over catastrophe & chaos sinkholes!

    Liked by 1 person

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