The Overgrowth of Overthinking

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“It’s Candida overgrowth,” she said solemnly.

I looked at Cindy without comprehension. I thought I knew her well, but had no clue what she had just said.

Aware of my blank state, Cindy continued.

“Many of my health problems are traced to it: the diarrhea, the yeast infections, the abdominal pain. Everyone has yeast in their digestive system, but mine has mutated to attach into my intestines. These fingers of yeast have perforated my gastrointestinal tract, allowing undigested food to escape directly into the rest of my body.”

“Well gross!” I exclaimed, without an attempt at intelligence. “How did this happen?”

“Lots of things trigger the overproduction of this otherwise healthy yeast,” Cindy explained. “Natural body temperature and a slightly alkaline pH are two common ones. But one of the biggies for me is an addiction to sugar and carbs. I have actually been feeding and encouraging yeast to grow.”

As I returned home that evening, I determined to pray for Cindy as she radically altered her lifestyle. Now years later, her resolve toward health has gradually moved her body into health.

I’ve been thinking about the connection in my own life. Could it be that offense is like overgrown yeast in our relationships? Like candida, harboring an offense can grow into bitterness, destroying from the inside out.

Jesus had a remedy for relational candida. “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive (Greek aphes: to send away) the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven (sent away from) them; if you retain (Greek: to keep possession of) the sins of any, they have been retained (taken possession of)’”John 20:22-23.

So what is one practical way to forgive? 

Read the following parable and make a guess which Greek word for forgiveness shows up in the verses below.

“A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine, but it not, then cut it down.’”

Both passages include the same Greek word. Did you find it? Eugene Peterson gives an insightful key. “Jesus’ prayer to His Father, ‘Forgive them,’ is a verbatim repetition of the gardener’s intervention, ‘Let it alone.’ The Greek word is aspes. In some contexts it means, ‘Hands off…Cool it…Leave it alone…’ In other contexts having to do with sin and guilt it means ‘Forgive…Remit…”

Sometimes the first step to forgiving is to stop thinking about it. Leave it alone. Stop turning their offense over in our minds. 

Yet, instead of sending away the offense, we hold grudges. Harboring hard feelings “feeds the yeast,” allowing offenses to mutate and spread into resentment and anger. 

Let me repeat. When we harbor unforgiveness, I am actually feeding and strengthening hurt to take possession of my thoughts. Guarding from this mutant will take a radical lifestyle change.

Take a moment to evaluate what thoughts you are feeding. Is it someone else’s wrong-doing? Have you been easily provoked and taken into account a wrong suffered? Should you just let alone? Sometimes, that’s the very best way to love (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash