When You Feel Overwhelmed

September 24, 2015

when you feel overwhelmed“Beauty will redeem the world.”

-Rectify, Sundance channel


The days are slipping away fast now, the leaves from the fig tree alighting to the ground, yellowed by drought, the California summer waning into fall showers.

Life has been busy lately, the kind of maddening pace where your soul feels squeezed in between to do lists and commitments, when you just feel overwhelmed.

What is snuffed out in that suffocating space is the ability to be contemplative, the ability to breathe in and out, and surrender the anxiousness underneath.

Sometimes in these seasons we have to stop and crawl up on the old beaten bench made white by the sun and listen to all the needs that are crying out for God’s attention.

Will we have to move again?

Will I really get pregnant?

Will that person see my value?

Can I survive that sadness again?

But clamoring even louder is the question, “Can I trust you God?”

I don’t like feeling needy.

I don’t like feeling weak or powerless. I like feeling powerful, wise, directed, serene. And yet, what if there is something God is teaching me too, in the middle of my needs, my weakness, my grief, my questions?

Stopping is the only way to hear. Contemplation is the only way to enter into stillness. Moments and memories pass when we don’t breathe them in.

Beauty is sometimes the only way to find God again. 

So there with the cup of chai and the bench creaking, the morning sunlight softening on my shoulder in the garden, I lay it all out again before Him in my journal. I open the Bible to the worn pages:

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Such a strange thing, that in my weakness I could be strong. But it’s there in my need that I lean into Him. I lay down my pride and my desire to have it all together, and that’s when the real internal work begins and growth happens.

I realize the times in my life when I’ve grown the most, and exhaled into an identity that reflected me most deeply, were the times when I felt weak and gave it all to God.

Because if I don’t have needs, and acknowledge them, then I can’t receive.

And receiving is the beautiful, humbling experience upon which transformation is built.

If we don’t listen to the needs they become unhealthy.

If we don’t hold them like small children and soothe them, the pain comes out in anger, in rejection, in numbing, in passive aggression.

My needs aren’t bad, they’re normal. They’re not the enemy, they’re just like younger, more frightened parts of me that need reassurance.

So when I say, “Hey, I need a morning alone with Jesus,” or “I need a time out,” that’s me being brave, that’s me being both weak and strong, that’s me expanding to contain more freedom.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?