The fear of success

Do you remember the beginning of text messaging? What once was a device to hear someone’s voice became a way to instantly send and receive information without even needing to stop what you were doing. At first, the sound or vibration indicating you had a message brought a tinge of excitement, but now you check your phone just to make sure there’s not a message waiting.

Or remember when you created your first social media account? Finding people to connect with and the idea of instantly sharing your thoughts with hundreds of people was exciting. But once again, what began as a fun way to see how your friends across the country were doing soon turned into an impulsive need to keep scrolling, keep checking, just one more minute.

Seeking with all your heart

There’s enough research out there to show how dopamine plays a part in our desire to continue seeking. Our brains are stimulated when anticipating a reward, and so we continue to search. In today’s society, that takes many forms. Social media and phone usage play a major role, but what if our desire for the next thing goes beyond the screens in our hands?

Many people tend to look to what’s next. Everything from the next major life decision to next weekend’s plans. We’re somewhat trained to think this way, though. When we’re in high school, we have to think about what college we’re interested in attending. In college, we need to decide on a career path. Then it’s the first job. When we’re dating, we have to think about if this is the person we want to marry.    

It’s ingrained in us to be thinking about the next step. But then a necessary process becomes habit. We start planning on when to buy a house, even though we just started renting our first apartment. We ask our newly-married friends when they want to have kids. We think about the next thing without even realizing we’re stepping on our present to get to the future.

Like wanting to see just a few more posts on Facebook, we continue scrolling through the news feed of our future. But many of us secretly seek without the desire to follow through on our plans.

The grass is always greener

Maybe it’s because upon reaching the next thing, we aren’t as content as we had thought. Maybe we don’t actually believe we can find what we seek. Whatever the case, we seem to talk a big game when we search. We have all these ideas and desires, but when it comes time to execute our plans, we grow fearful.

What if it’s not all I want it to be? What if I can’t make it? Or there’s something better?

Without realizing it, we can become obsessed with seeking. We love dreaming and even planning, but when we get down to the nuts and bolts of it, we fear the reality of change. The hunt for something new is comfortable, because it’s just words and pictures on a screen. We can easily become addicted to the process without ever truly desiring the reward.

So what, you may ask? What’s the problem with spending some time dreaming and planning without actually wanting to do anything about reaching that dream?

The problem doesn’t come from the desire for what’s next, although that will cause you to eventually lose your grip on the present. The issue with this addiction and fear of success boils down to a need for control and a lack of trust.

Committing to God

Our constant desire to check Instagram or our phone for texts can be explained, in part, as dopamine, according to scientists. But our addiction for wanting to plan each step of our lives, secretly fearing the next thing, could be described as a lack of faith in God’s plan.

Proverbs 16:3 tells us to commit our plans to God, and He will establish them. Planning isn’t wrong or sinful. We need plans. We need to have budgets in case of emergency. It’s important to plan out whose in-laws we’re seeing this Christmas. Our lack of trust and need for control comes in to play when we make seeking the next thing an addiction, never bothering to commit our plans to God.

It makes sense that we would fear succeeding in our plans if we haven’t surrendered them to the Creator of time and space. We should be worried about our need for control when we seek after the future without stopping to thank God for the present.

Our lives aren’t social media feeds. We can’t automatically go to the next thing mindlessly, and we shouldn’t be searching just to feel the rush of being in control. Once we start committing our plans to God, we will notice a change in our seeking. The desire for searching for the next thing will become an attitude of trusting God with our future as we make plans according to His ways. Fear of success will melt away as we loosen our grip on our anticipation for more.

How will you commit your ways to God? God desires for you to seek Him. This time we have on earth is a gift, and it would be a shame to waste it by only searching and never committing.  

Let’s Talk About It: How does your seeking after future events hinder your faith in your Creator?  

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