In today’s busy culture, doing more is praised. What about when you’re overwhelmed with the enormity of it all? There is an antidote for feeling overwhelmed. As I wondered how I would manage, I thought through these 10 steps that helped me process the overwhelm and exchange it for God’s grace, mercy and provision.
The to-do list for the day was longer than a week’s worth of time. Yet it seemed nothing could be shaved off to make room for more margin.
And then he asked… “Mom, I was thinking we could go out on a date…”
As I started to formulate an excuse on my lips, I could feel the room, and my emotional reserve shrinking around me as a movie-like reel of pictures ran through my mind.
And I fell under the enormity and overwhelm of it all. There was no way I could get it all done. Who would I have to let down? My patients? My publisher? My son? God? Me?
How did I get here? (Where is that permission slip that needed signing?) When did things get so out of control? (Did I call the insurance man back?) Where do I start when it’s all important and something won’t get done? (Will anyone notice if the milk is past its expiration date?) What kind of a wife am I? Mother? Employer? Friend? Church member? (Can I get to the school to pick up the kids before the car runs out of gas?) My thoughts tumbled around my head like a pinball machine, running into things that weren’t supposed to be on the path.
Have you ever been there? Wondering how you would manage? Who you would let down?
10 Steps that help process overwhelm:
1. Standing in the shadow of overwhelm, there is fear, doubt, and dread. All are lies from our enemy.
Yet those are all lies, offered to us as temptation by the father of all lies, the accuser of the brethren.
I’ve taken his bait so many times. How about you?
2. Feeling overwhelmed always comes back to fear and anxiety. When you allow yourself to be swallowed up in the urgency of the moment, you trade your peace for a counterfeit.
When I allow myself to become swallowed up in the urgency of the moment, the hour, or the day, I have traded my peace for a counterfeit that never satisfies. I have agreed with the spirit of fear, which is in direct opposition with God’s word that says, “He has not given you the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
3. Worrying about tomorrow only adds additional problems to today.
Jesus told us not worry about tomorrow. He knew we would be tempted. But worrying about tomorrow only adds problems to today. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
4. Jesus was never worried or hurried. He just did the next thing the Father told Him to do.
In scripture, we never see Jesus worried or in a hurry. He had enough ministry needs to meet to last multiple lifetimes, yet He only had 3 years to complete the work the Father had sent Him to do. Never once did he hurry or rush to get more done. He simply did the next thing His father told Him to do. And that was enough.
5. Birds don’t hurry and worry. They trust the provision of the One who created them.
God cares so much about us. The Word tells us that He cares about the birds, and meets all their needs, and yet He cares about us so much more. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26). The birds don’t hurry and worry. They trust in the provision of the hand that created them.
6. We can trust that if God brings us to it, He will see us through it.
With respect to our own responsibilities, we can trust that if God brings us to it, He will see us through it. Worry and the feeling of being overwhelmed focus our thoughts on our own inadequacies rather than trusting in God’s grace, mercy, and provision.
7. God’s plan for us is always good and His timing is always perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God’s plan for us is good, to prosper us and not to harm us. His plan for us is always good, and His timing is always perfect.
8. Walk away from the shadow of overwhelm into the shadow of the cross where you find grace.
If we will walk away from the shadow of overwhelm, and choose instead to walk in the shadow of the cross, He extends grace, which is sufficient for that moment, and the next… (“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).
9. Don’t pray to get everything done, but to have His priorities for the day.
Just as my Heavenly Father makes me and my needs a priority, so too, did I put aside the other things clamoring for my attention, and made the needs of my child a priority that day, and the lesser important things got done eventually. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Now my prayer is not that the Lord will help me to get everything done, but that He would show my His priorities for my day.
10. When we seek Him first, everything else just falls into place.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Will you exchange your anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed for His grace today?
Resource to Break Anxiety’s Grip
No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety – as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and that we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.
We can discover true peace in an age of anxiety.
In Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others. She reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything.
She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip.