Monday, March 24, 2014

What to do (and not to do) when I'm overwhelmed

If there were a record for how many times a person has said "I'm so overwhelmed" in a matter of 4 months, I think I would be taking home the gold.  My poor husband. 

These past few months have stretched me and pulled me so hard I was sure I would snap.  Yet here I am, still doing this thing called life.  When the season began I can still vividly remember kneeling before God in a dark room way past midnight one night weeping, telling Him I couldn't go through "this".  I couldn't put my family through this.  I needed to be "put together" and "happy" and "fine".  Whatever that means.  That night I picked myself up from the tear-soaked spot on the carpet, dried my face, and went to bed feeling good about that little talk.  I had resolved that.  Gratefully.  A few hours later when I woke up the next morning I realized that all those problems and issues were still there.  I had resolved nothing.

Oh wait.  That's right.  I'm in control of nothing.  Today I look back on that girl who did that and have to laugh a little.  Who the heck did I think I was?

A few months later, I've learned a little.  Not everything by any means.  But a little.  Today I'd like to share that "little" with you.  If I could've known some of this a few months ago it would've saved me so many sleepless, tearful nights, and sweet friend-I'm praying the same for you today.

3 Wrong Responses to Being Overwhelmed:  

1.)  Exercise fear instead of faith.  
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)
The word "dismayed" here literally means to "look around anxiously".  In my words-freaking out.  I can go from doing ok to dismayed in a record of 1.8 seconds.  Seriously.  At the end of the day though, I have to make a conscious decision to exercise my faith instead of my fear.  Which for me being a worrier by nature feels like the most unnatural awkward thing in the world-yes even for a believer.  I remember when my husband and I started dating and while spending more time together I noticed something so strange about him.  He had real faith.  I had faith about most things.  I had faith that God was real (no doubt), I had faith that as a born again believer my eternity with Him was sealed (no doubt), I had faith that every single word in the Bible was real, alive and active (no doubt).  I had that kind of faith.  But when it came to things like everyday living, finances, health, anxiety, or my future-I flatlined.  I spent the next few years learning to admire that about my husband and think he was kind of my hero that he could do that.  It was a reality wake up call the day I realized that God was calling me to live like that too.  (I'm hearing a collective "duh" from you, and I'm right there with you.)

2.)  Looking around to other people instead of God.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.  When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord His God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-the Lord, who remains faithful forever.  (Psalms 146:5-6)
I feel like this is an issue that Satan can so easily sneak up on Christians today and we are so quickly not realizing it until we are in a mess of it.  Because God can, and does, use other believers in our life to speak to us, to encourage us, to minister to us-and oh how humbly grateful I am for that.  But so swiftly we can get caught up in looking to them instead of Him.  I think there are 2 big danger zones with this one-first we somehow have made that person(s) an idol to us as we look to them for salvation instead of our Beloved Savior-one and only.  Secondly I think we can surround ourselves with a support group that tries to fill us with self-help and "pretty words" instead of pointing us to the only Healer and Deliverer.  I speak this with so much love and tenderness towards you today friend, but please know that all the self-help books and "positive thinking" will only get you so far.  I am convinced that no matter what the trial may be you cannot talk, work, or think your way out of it-there is one way and one way only-deliverance by the saving hand of your Heavenly Father.  That's it.  

3.)  Trust in superstition instead of God's sovereignty.  
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I have never been one to believe in superstition, or so I thought.  I always viewed superstitions as avoiding cracks in the sidewalks and black cats.  But couldn't it also be the things I look to for comfort when life gets hard?  Whatever it may be that seems to "fix" it for me-food, shopping, sleep, for some-drugs, alcohol, multiple relationships.  In reality the truth is whatever I think will help me feel better in my life-God is always the better version of that.   No matter how hard it is to swallow this truth sometimes, if we believe God to be sovereign then our time of trial or captivity was either given by Him or allowed by Him.  Meaning 1 thing-He is still in control, still in charge, even when everything seems to be so dark and spinning out of control.  Maybe it's really just spinning out of "my control".  

A few things I want to say before I finally close this post...
-I write this with tears in my eyes knowing that I have learned this one the hard way.  No matter how bad we have responded to a trial or dark season, He will not respond badly.  He will respond faithful still.  We can never phase His faithfulness.  (If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.  (2 Timothy 2:13)
- Think of Judah-captivity turned out to be the best thing for them.  Ultimately when I look back on my life I have grown very little when the sun was shining and all was good.  But I have grown leaps and bounds when I've all but hated life and spent each night crying out to God.  
-I believe that God was in control before I was born.  I believe that He will be in control long after I've breathed my last breath on this earth.  So what in the world makes me think He won't be in control for this portion of time that I'm alive?
-For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  (Isaiah 41:13)  The more we focus on the "I am's" of our Lord, the less the how/where/when the "I will's" will bother us.  He is-and that's enough.
- Whatever struggle or trial or overhwhelmed season you are in, the Promised Presence of God (yes I said promised-count on it more than your next breath) will out do and out live your pain.  Every time.

Linking up with:  The Modest Mom, Sara, Nan, Hope in Every Season, Joy Focused Learning,  

1 comment:

  1. So true! thank you for these awesome words!

    Found you via Mama Moments.