4 Ways To Battle Overwhelm

Me and boysTrust, surrender, let go. These are so abstract. I struggle to understand, embody, and live them each day when concrete worldly matters are smacking me hard in the face. I see the tangible. I touch them, clean them, and manage the hands-on tasks. But am I surrendering? Am I drowning in overwhelm instead of the ocean of God’s grace?

Exodus 14:14: The Lord will fight for you and you have only to keep silent.

I wonder if the more we have in this world, the more we set ourselves up for failure. For distance from God. I set my sights on kitchen upgrades, yard maintenance, and cleaning out our hoarders buried alive basement only to one day acquire more stuff once they are finished.

I spend so much of my positive energy to earn money either to cover the credit card bill, debate over how stash it away, or buy some coveted home improvement. I plan birthdays and research vacations. Not all of this is bad of course, but it consumes my mind as I endlessly mull over plans, logistics, money and the crushing To Do list. I fail to surrender to just BE. My mind races in the grips of OCD trying to complete as much as possible. Often I can’t sleep.

It’s so silly and yet I can’t (or rather won’t) put it down. So how do I battle overwhelm? After much thought, this is my method for change:

1. On Sundays simply rest and be with family.

Sounds ridiculously simple but it always gets hijacked by errands and needy tasks. This past Sunday when I had the whole morning to truly pay attention and sit on the floor with my toddlers, they behaved so well! It was joyful. I smiled at my beautiful boys and played so peacefully with them. I need this Sunday surrender to make an offering of prayer, rest, reflection, and healing before I jump into the whirlwind that always descends on Monday.

2. Praise through song.

I don’t need to duel with the enemy To Do list when I am driving. Instead I choose to play a Christian song that praises God and acknowledges my need for Him. One of my favorites is “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher.

3. Pray and write about what to prune.

We are intimately connected to Jesus like a branch to a vine. Plants need pruning and so do we. What do I need to prune from my life that’s grown unchecked like a wild bush tangled with weeds in the forest?

4. Give thanks FIRST thing in the morning.

I’m guilty. In my first conscious moment, I silence my phone alarm and then dive right into email before my eyes can even peel open and adjust to the glow of the cell phone. Ugh. The feeling of overwhelm churns as work emails need my response and I can’t get to them until my boys nap at 2:30pm.

I do thank God each morning, but I can change the whole tone and purpose of my day if I first surrender it to Him. Invite God to be my center and place His will on my heart. Yes, that is better than clinging to the smart phone my friends.

Job 6:24: Teach me, and I will be silent; show me how I have gone astray.

Pretty soon the seasons of life and the harvest that really matters will have passed. I was busy and missed it…if I don’t pull the plug now and drain the bath of overwhelm. I don’t want to regret not resting when I had the chance. I need to make space to grow my faith, love with depth and patience, and chisel away at my selfish tendencies. Otherwise, God has a way of halting my life so I am reminded I must indeed surrender.

Please dear friend, pay attention to your heart. The choices we make today are the seeds that grow into the landscape of our future on earth and eternity. So make room for silence and a plan to battle overwhelm. Just a little bit. Give yourself a chance to surrender with open hands even if it’s just one deep breath of precious air that carries Jesus through your mind, body, and soul.

 

I Completely Lost It

woman cryingMy life was chugging along with freight train force overwhelm when the bottom fell out. I was halted. Thrown into the Twilight Zone by the most virulent virus I have ever experienced. I had never heard about or even fathomed the degree of annihilation my body could endure due to gastroenteritis that took hold of my stomach and destroyed me…for 5 days. I really needed an IV for dehydration but I am stubborn and fought on. But what scarred me the most through all this was how I completely lost control and ended up hurting my little boy.

As typically occurs every 5 minutes, my almost 3 year-old twins were fighting and whining as I was forcing myself to get them ready for bed. As I reached into the dyer for their pajamas, I discovered a diaper that had exploded from going through the washer and dryer. Again. Little gooey particles were all over the clothes. I sat on the laundry room floor about to cry when Ethan comes in to me whining about Hayden taking a toy from him. I screamed, “Shut up!!!” and slammed the door in his face.

I felt then as I still do now like I’m a horrible mother to say that to my beautiful child, the image and likeness of Christ. I caved into anger and collapsed. As a result of my weakness and failing, Ethan now says, “When you cry, Mommy tells you shut up.” Thankfully he didn’t pick up on the curse words I used that week too.

How did I get to this point? Is my spiritual house built on sand? Am I so distant from the Lord that sin and selfishness have overtaken me? I know I am not and will not ever be perfect, but this person I am today must change.

I NEED Him. I need to spend time in His Word to drown my poisoned thoughts and wash over me so powerfully that my heart is cleansed. To transform what comes out of my mouth from anger and darkness into love, truth, and light.

What dominates our time and thoughts? What consumes our attention and money? Is it God, His Will, and living the Gospel? For me it is not. It’s work and managing all the comforts, wants, and obligations of life. It’s so difficult to admit but I am painfully aware that I am a flawed being stuck in this present world instead of the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:19-21: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

I don’t have a simple, easy answer to this struggle other than to stop. Surrender and put down the baggage. Strip every self-serving project away even if the purge burns you. Repent and cling to Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. There is only need of Him. Let life unfold completely in His hands. Lay down your own will and life in this world. What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul? (Mark 8:36). I had a glimpse of losing my soul – several over the past week – and I want to wash it off like dirt.

Perhaps God’s message in the Book of Job summarized in The Purpose Driven Life will help me start a new direction of positive thought and steer my efforts back to him…

He is good and loving

He is all powerful

He notices every detail of my life

He is in control

He has a plan for my life

He will save me

For patience and grace, dear Lord, I pray.

Tell Me The Truth

perfected in weaknessYou’re hiding it. You’ve got to be. Behind the perky façade that’s always managing parenting, domestic life, and work so well, you must struggle with something deeper. We were not created to be yoga pant-wearing, carpooling mommy clones. We feel deeply and can help each other heal and grow in faith. If we are brave enough to open up and share our real, raw selves.

The author of Momnipotent (p132) writes: “Remember that we are all editors…We see what other people choose to share about themselves, and what they choose to share, for the most part, will be their very best, their most flattering details, and those things they are most proud of. These are their exterior details.”

This makes SO much sense. If you have safe, cheery walls up around you and cover up your flaws, fears, and dreams, God can’t use you. He uses weak people with a willing heart. My friend, are you willing to open your heart?

2 Corinthians 12:9: And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Consumed with serving my own family and chasing a myriad of other tasks, I treasure every opportunity I get to spend with you. Even if much of it is in silence or over the screams of my fighting toddlers. Please, I’m asking you to tell me the truth. I need you and I’m betting you need me a bit too.

Next time our conversation ventures into the realm of resolutions, relationships, fears, and dreams, don’t say, “I don’t know.” Your authentic voice is clamoring to find its way out. Uncensored. Real. Will you dare to share what’s bubbling below your sweet composed surface? I’ll share my heart, my faith – everything – if you want it. Sure it’s easier said than done as there is always the risk of judgment, but if we end up in a hug, maybe even releasing buried tears, isn’t it worth it?

I do not want to complicate your schedule or rope you into hours of therapy talk. I’m just asking for a few precious moments of truth. Your truth in a world that hides behind a nice clean home, perfect marriage, material blessings, and endless chatter about our children’s sleep, eating, and school behaviors.

Maybe I’m an existential idealist, but I would much rather talk about faith, strength, pain, transformation, happiness, and love. Whatever you feel, I have tremendous empathy as I have likely walked in similar shoes, have been seared with the same emotions. So my friend, I invite you into the heart of authentic love. Let’s be honest, deep, true sisters in Christ.