For when you’re drowning in your life: Overwhelmed Part 1

OceanI couldn’t believe my eyes.

I had cleared just enough off my to-do list for the day and pulled out of my driveway to hit the grocery store.

And then I saw them.

The trucks. The ones with long ladders and a crew of at least two men. Parked in front of not just one, but two, of my neighbor’s homes on the very same afternoon. To install Christmas lights.

I just about came unhinged. Yes, I suppose partly because it’s only early November and I can’t wrap my head around Christmas just yet. But more because this just pushed me over the edge into the dark, scary void. That place where if anyone so much as asks me to tell them whether their head is still attached to their body, I will lack the intellectual faculty to answer them because I’m so overwhelmed. 

Been there? Felt like you’re drowning in the deepest waters of what life’s most necessary tasks require of you? Me, too.

Nobody asked me to think about Christmas lights today. In reality, they’re not even the true problem. The real issue is my mental bandwidth. I’ve cut the “extra fat” from my schedule and am trying to focus my energies on only that which is most necessary and fruitful. (“Trying” is the operative word here.) I know I’m doing too much when I react the way I did today: with a vehement head-shaking “noooooo” because I can’t bear the thought of managing even one more thing. Can.not.

Sometimes we put ourselves in situations that exceed our abilities… We take on too much due to an inability to say no (boundaries, anyone?), or a need to feel important. Or busy. Other times God throws a new mantle of responsibility over our shoulders that pushes us beyond ourselves to where we must rely on Him. Regardless of which path led you to this place, I think there are several tools the Bible offers to help us cope. None of us wants to be overwhelmed with a long blog post to read, so I’ll just throw one at you for today:

Remember who God is.

Don’t confuse basic with profound here, friends. It might sound simple to say “remember who God is” but step back and try to really soak that into your bones. Reflect on what we know about Him and His unbounded power. Genesis 1:9 describes God’s work on the third day of creation:

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” (NLT)

This God, our God, is the very one who caused all the waters to flow into one place, making dry ground appear. When I feel like I’m drowning in my life’s requirements, I feel I have no place to set my feet… that I can’t even touch bottom and take a breath, like a child in the deep end of the pool. But the Bible teaches us that the very same God who gathered the waters so that life on land could exist also governs the waters of our lives.

If He can gather all the ocean’s might into one place, He can most certainly help us find a dry place to stand.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Dry Land

Please share!
    • Heidi Feichtinger via Facebook

      Totally can relate to this. Aaahh Christmas! I have been sent over the edge by the thought of Christmas Cards (and cookies, and events…) but the overwhelmed for me is not only at Christmas time. Your suggestion to step back and remember who God is I think is helpful. For me, I think part of the overwhelmed is taking too much on myself, even just in my mind, and thinking too far into the future about what is coming…”each day has enough trouble of its own…” Thanks, Kirsten Holmberg 8|28

    • Jenni

      “Other times God throws a new mantle of responsibility over our shoulders that pushes us beyond ourselves to where we must rely on Him.” This is where I am for the next seven weeks… it’s not just a crazy-busy time of year, but on top of that, the number of requirements in my unique teaching assignment have drop-kicked me out of my teaching comfort zone. Plus, I’m a planner, and this particular job is much more day-to-day, meaning I barely know what tomorrow *might* look like, much less next week. I just read Genesis 1 yesterday. :) Will welcome the spot of dry land. Thanks, Kirsten, for starting a series tailor-made for me. ;)

      • Kirsten Holmberg

        Drop-kicked! Eek! Sorry to hear that. I will pray God reveals Himself in new and exciting ways for you over the next seven weeks. Press in, Jenni!

    • Carina DeWitt via Facebook

      Love. This. Post! So true…

    • Tara Ulrich

      There is so much truth in this post my friend! It is important to remember who God is. And what’s cool is that by remembering who God is we are reminded of who we are too; what is truly important in our lives.

      • Kirsten Holmberg

        Thanks for bringing that up, Tara: the better we know Him, the better we know ourselves as His image-bearers and beloved children. Awesome!

    • Faith Raider

      One of the things I experienced as our write31days challenge wrapped up was a tremendous amount of push-back. Which also happened to coincide with a retreat I attended at church. Almost as soon as I can home I got sick, as soon as I started feeling better I got totally overwhelmed with discouragement as soon as I got my feet under me in regards to that my marriage exploded. Push back. I believe as we continue to stake our claim in the ground we have taken and refuse to go back we’ll see these feelings ebb. At least, I sure hope so!!!
      I LOVED the analogy of the God who caused dry ground to appear. I have been praying similar words, but I love this connection.
      I wrote about feeling overwhelmed too. Only I wrote “may you be overwhelmed by NOTHING but God…”

    • Susan

      Just this morning I told a co-worker, “That’s not my problem to figure out – God can deal with it.” He really is the Only One who can do anything about anything. He calms the waves and parts the sea – He is God! And, by the way, it is way too early to be hanging Christmas lights!!! xo

    • Fruitbearer

      I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that we must remember Who God is. The more we know God, the more we love, Him, trust Him, obey Him, and rest in Him. I don’t feel overwhelmed when I have God-confidence.

    • Mary Hill

      So wonderful. When I feel overwhelmed and like I am drowning, I will recall he made dry land where once was oceans. thanks.

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