What to Do When You're Just Overwhelmed by Kathi Lipp
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
If one more person asks me about centerpieces, I think I may stab myself with the cake knife!
How can one of the happiest days in a family’s life — something all of us have been looking forward to for years — turn into one of the most overwhelming events ever?
You see, overwhelm camouflages itself. Some days it appears in hard places: A health crisis. Not being able to pay the bills. A huge project at work that requires all your time and attention.
Other times, it sneaks in through the door of blessings: A new, unexpected addition to the family. A long-dreamed-about trip to see family. Or, in our case, one of our kids getting married.
When Amanda and Shaun announced their engagement, we were thrilled. We’d been praying for the right man to come into Amanda’s life, and Shaun was a welcome addition to the family.
But after the announcement came all the wedding plans. Who do we invite? Where will we hold the wedding? How will we pay for everything?
After the initial excitement, reality came crashing down on us. That’s when overwhelm kicked in. Dreams of seeing Amanda walking down the aisle were replaced with elaborate fantasies of bribing the kids to elope.
When I’m overwhelmed, my first instinct is to shut down. Then I fall back into familiar overwhelmed thinking patterns: I just need to work harder. Maybe I can rearrange my schedule to do some work on Sundays. Yes, that’s it … except my husband and I agreed that our Sundays would be a day for rest. But how else would these plans come together?
After stressing and stewing about how to make everything work, I finally remembered I was not in this alone. God is not surprised by the trials, or the blessings, coming my way.
When I start to feel the familiar weight of overwhelm press down, here’s what I eventually remind myself to do:
Stop comparing plates. Our capacity to handle life is like dishes at an estate sale. There are dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates and more. Some people get the dinner plates; their capacity is awe-inspiring. Then there are those who have been given a salad plate. They overwhelm easily and live a carefully curated life in order to function.
Friends, we need to know which size plate we have.
If you’re delicately balancing a demitasse cup plate in life, and your best friend has a turkey platter of a plate, don’t start comparing your capacity to hers. God designed your temperament and hers differently on purpose.
Take the next faithful step to deal with overwhelm. With my daughter’s wedding, when I started to feel the panic of overwhelm rise within me, instead of trying to “suck it up” and power through, I learned to ask the right questions:
• I asked for time. I asked if I had some flexibility on other deadlines — I did!
• I asked for help. When my friend Nancy heard that Amanda was getting married, she offered to help with all the plans and prep. I politely declined, and then five minutes later, came to my senses and begged her to help. Nancy got to use her gift of planning amazing parties on the cheap, and I obeyed orders and bore less stress.
• I asked for grace. My husband and I took the day after the wedding off from work. We wanted time to rest, reflect and recover. The wedding was a huge blessing in our lives, but it was also stressful. We didn’t want to carry that over into other parts of our lives. Taking that day to reflect on what God had done — and rest — was priceless.
Practice trusting God more deeply before overwhelm sets in.
I’ve learned to step back, take a break and let myself sit in the unimaginable — the thought that God already provided everything I need for this challenge. I no longer let calendars, emails and to-dos dictate my next move, but I hold to God’s promises to shape my heart into the kind of daughter He designed me to be.
Father, let me take every thought and emotion, blessing or burden, directly to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: What’s one thing you can do today to trust God with your overwhelm?
© 2017 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.
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