We all get overwhelmed. Our chest tightens. Our breath shallows. Our eyes tear. We believe no matter how hard we strain, things won’t work out.
In these days we need reminders of truth. Here are five truths that help me overcome feelings of defeat:
5 Truths to Guide Us
1. We are valuable because God made us (Genesis 1:27).
We see a person’s job promotion on Facebook. Yet again. We unpack boxes in the house a friend bought, when we barely made rent.
Our souls feed on images of value—how much we possess or have accomplished.
So, we strain. We build our ladder and hang every rung with weight to earn that job, buy that thing, impress that person.
And then our ladder snaps. We find ourselves on the floor of defeat when the job closes, sickness comes, the spouse leaves.
I’ve lived through a fair share of ladder collapses under the weight of my own hustle. On the cold floor of what feels like failure, God reminds us that our value is in the fact that he created us. Period. Not in our resume, street address, or social media likes.
Are you valuing yourself based on anything besides the way God values us?
2. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35–39).
The Jesus Story Book Bible talks about God’s love as a “Never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love.”
Oh, how we need that kind of love!
Especially when we mess up. We hold onto anger and resentment from pain another person caused, as it creates boils in our souls. Or we sin even more overtly.
John Lennon was right. Sometimes, “all we need is love”—God’s love.
When, because of our sin or pain, we feel like we stand at the base of the mountain of God’s love. Instead of scaling that peak with confidence, we can feel overwhelmed. But God climbed the mountain for us, so we don’t have to.
Are you limiting the influence of God’s love in your life, even when the Word says nothing separates us from his love?
3. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Read my Bible? Check. Tithe? Check. Volunteer? Check. Sometimes faithful Christian practices become checklists for earning God’s favor.
And trying to earn God’s love through good deeds is a recipe for “overwhelm,” because no matter how many batches of cookies we bake for our neighbor, it’s never enough.
We cannot earn God’s grace. That is why he gifts us his grace when we put our faith in Jesus.
Do you feel anxious about trying to be better or prove yourself?
4. Those with faith, follow (James 1:26).
“We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader. We’re following the leader, wherever he may go.” This lyric from the classic Peter Pan animated movie has it right.
When we feel overwhelmed, it sometimes means we are choosing to do more than God is leading us to do.
If we follow the leader (God our Father) by obeying his word and yielding to the Spirit, then whatever we leave undone is not ours to do.
Do you feel guilty for things left undone? Writing a list and praying for priorities is a great way to yield to the Spirit rather than to stress out.
5. We need to run our race, not someone else’s (Romans 14:12).
Pinterest can drive me pin-crazy sometimes. Color coded files—pin. Cooking from scratch—pin. Turning a guest room into a retreat—pin.
Don’t we understand that these pins represent the works of different people?
No. We think we can be ten people and do all things well. But that’s a recipe for “overwhelm” and maybe even mental health crises.
Over and over in the scriptures, we read about doing God’s will. Sometimes, “God’s will” seems too “spiritual”—especially as we fold laundry.
But if we look at the men and women in scripture, we can clearly see that God’s will was quite tactile and focused. Lydia examined fabric as a successful businesswoman and arranged her living room furniture to host church. She was not caking her feet in the dust of hundreds of miles of Roman roads proclaiming the gospel, like Paul (who didn’t have a family). Nor was she resetting dislocated shoulders like Luke, the physician.
God’s leading in our vocations, family life, and service will look unlike anyone else’s. And we will each give an account for following God’s path for our own lives—not the path for someone else. We need to walk our own trail.
Do you compare yourself with other people and try to do more than you’re supposed to?
Feeling Overwhelmed is a Sign to Refocus
In whatever way we overwhelm ourselves, when we feel those intense emotions, it’s a red flag to pull back and ponder these things:
- Am I believing something false about my value or how I am loved?
- Am I trying to do more so I can be more?
- What is the godly focus of my life in this season? Week? Day?