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It happened again last night. I started to write out my schedule for the next few weeks and realized I had overcommitted. I needed to find time to write blog posts, finish content for my website and social media pages, follow up on a growing list of emails, write thank-you notes, and more. And, maintain a loving relationship with my fairly new husband. But I had filled my schedule with networking events, meetings, and phone calls.
I felt pressed in on every side. As the feeling of overwhelm seeped in, I became keenly aware that my ability to stay connected relationally and attend to creating content drastically decreased.
Normal casual conversations were now perceived through a lens of weariness, overwhelm, and frustration. The slightest deviation in my schedule led to a sense of loss, or feeling judged and misunderstood.
I had allowed my schedule to control me and my sense of well-being.
Overwhelm brought a whole host of friends with it which took me in a downward spiral. I desperately wanted to overcome the overwhelm yet again.
Where It All Started
The darkness of overwhelm seemed to close its slimy tentacles around my soul. I felt without hope. I was a new single mom of 4 and I honestly had no idea how we were going to make it. I knelt before my grandma’s old blue rocker with my head on the lap of the seat, willingly giving in to the overwhelm. Suddenly I envisioned a light, no bigger than a pinprick, but that is the POWER of light. In the deepest darkest place, it doesn’t take much to let us know we are not alone and there is hope.
The light did not get bigger, but it spoke a thousand promises of what was yet to come if only I focused on the light and not the darkness.
This was the beginning of the beginning for me. An eternal key was given that day that would give me access to the gift of peace and joy time and time again. This key would keep the waves of overwhelm from consuming me. Those waves did not go away. They still attempt to break down the walls of peace and joy that have been built over the years. These waves still beat at the doors of my soul, and often, like last night, I start to open to the overwhelm and get swept away.
Begin The Journey
Facing seasons of overwhelm is a part of life for so many women who are trying to manage a family and career.
We find ourselves swept up in
the nagging desire to be more,
and be more available.
We get caught in the clutches of overwhelm and lose the gifts of peace and joy for which we know we are created. What’s worse, is we long for our homes and relationships to be filled with this peace and joy.
Unfortunately, if we cannot find it internally,
we certainly can’t live it out externally.
Managing the overwhelm can sustain us for a while, but living from the internal well-spring of peace and joy and learning how to let it bubble up from within, is our highest goal. It's time we learned to overcome the overwhelm in our lives and train up our children to do the same.
As Paul passionately states in Romans 7:24 (and how I often feel in a time of overwhelm) “Wretched man (woman) that I am! Who will deliver me from this constant state of overwhelm” (italics are my own words)
In other words “JESUS, I need HELP”.
And in His kindness, He gives us keys to unlock prison doors and open up new ways of living.
John 6: 24-27, Jesus gives us wise counsel:
So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Choosing not to worry, to not give in to overwhelm is ‘easier said than done’. But Jesus’ counsel doesn’t leave us without the plan or steps. Let's follow along to see what our Savior has to say.
FIRST | Look to the birds of the air.
Oftentimes in the overwhelm we are so focused on the next. Jesus says, “you want to learn how to not become overwhelmed? LOOK UP at the birds."
He invites us to get our eyes off the things that are keeping us entangled and LOOK UP.
It might seem like a simplistic antidote to the challenges we face daily, but aren’t the ways of the Lord simple, pure, leading to life and joy? (Psalm 19:8)
SECOND | Stop
Have you ever tried looking up while moving forward?
Wisdom shouts..."HEY, if you don't want to fall on your face or break your arm, you better STOP while you are looking up."
Perhaps our loving Savior invites us to look up in order to get us to STOP; stop striving, stop trying to figure it out, stop worrying about all of the tomorrows that are yet to come.
As we follow the instructions of the Lord and ‘look to the birds’, it will be necessary to stop look up to the birds of the air, pause so you don’t stumble and fall.
THIRD | Reflect and Remember
In another passage of the bible, we hear the voice of God thunder,
“BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”
In the process of looking at the birds of the air, Jesus reminds us to do exactly this. He asks, “If your heavenly Father takes care of these birds of the air, won’t he do much more for you? Aren’t you more important than the birds?”
REMEMBER who God is, REMEMBER who you are…sit in that place with that knowledge for a moment and let the truth wash over you.
If you find yourself getting tripped up in the overwhelm, you can’t find your way to a more peaceful and joyful life, perhaps you can follow the wisdom of the Lord and
TRY IT GOD'S WAY
Give yourself a month and take time to actually pause and look to the birds of the air. Let the truth of His faithfulness sink into your heart. As you practice basking, baking, and bathing in this truth, soon you will begin to relax into a more fulfilled life.
While these steps may seem simple, a major lifestyle change is never easy.
You are strengthening yourself to run the race of life without growing weary and it takes time, practice, encouragement, and dedication. In order to incorporate new habits, even healthy life-giving habits, we often need someone outside of our own minds and lives to help us navigate the journey into the new.
Who is the person or persons in your life who can give you the encouragement you need to develop a strength of looking up?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend, coach, family member, or counselor to help you incorporate new life-giving habits.
If you struggle getting started, reach out. I'd love to help you get on the right track and get OUT of the overwhelm.