Overwhelmed Maybe, but Not Defeated
“When we get overwhelmed, it’s easy to feel defeated
but God assures us we are not.”
I have to admit, I’m feeling a little extra overwhelmed these days…
Without going into the gory details of all I’m managing right now, it’s a wonder I’m not curled up in a fetal position sucking my thumb! Who isn’t affected by the pressing demands of the holidays, while maintaining control of everyday life? With the rare exception of those who thrive this time of year, I know for a fact I’m not alone. It seems like mostly everyone I run into has this look in their eyes—kind of a glossy mixture between “Hey, great to see you!” and “Get out of my way, I have things to do.” They murmur a “hello” and “buh-bye” in one breath! And experience tells me it will only get worse the closer we come to December 25th.
When I get overwhelmed, I tend to procrastinate, which only adds to the stress. I get easily distracted, I have trouble staying on task, and I want to just quit everything and watch tv or read. I also notice (and my family especially notices) that I get snippy with others and my fuse is a little shorter than normal (no short jokes, please!). I have a simmering anxiety that seems to surface when I least expect it, whether it’s an outburst, or the reverse, laughing hysterically! Sounds crazy, I know…
I can only think of one thing that helps me manage these overwhelming feelings—staying tuned in to God and allowing Him to help me sort through what’s really important and what’s not. You see, feeling overwhelmed can make you feel defeated, but God assures us we are not. Take a look at this verse:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my
burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
I love this verse for so many reasons, but mostly because I understand it to be a promise and an invitation that Jesus extends to everyone who is burdened and weary. In the historical context of the first century, he was referring to the extra traditions that the Jews had heaped upon the shoulders of the people—things like not being able to pick up a stick or helping someone on the Sabbath because it would be considered work. Today, this might translate into the traditions and expectations our culture has heaped on us. As it pertains to Christmas, it might be the month-long (now two-month-long) traditions of cards, trees, lights, gifts, parties, ornaments, decorations, carols, cookies, and on and on.
A yoke is something put on cattle to plow fields. It is typical when training a younger, smaller ox, to put it in the same yoke with an an older, larger one. That way the more experienced ox shoulders most of the burden as it leads and guides. When Jesus is saying “Take my yoke,” he means that he is willing to shoulder the burdens of those who choose to follow him, which is much easier than shouldering them alone. When we allow him to do this, he says he will be our leader and we will learn from him. His teachings come from a place of gentleness and humility in heart and they give rest to our souls. Instead of adding to our feelings of being overwhelmed, he offers comfort, kindness, and benevolence. His ways aren’t heavy and burdensome, they are light and easy to keep. In essence, when we respond to Jesus who says, “Come to me,” we receive refreshment and rest to recover our strength.
I did this very thing just today by listening to an amazing song I heard on the radio called, Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. (If you’ve never heard it, check it out on I-Tunes.) As I listened to the lyrics and the beauty of the song, I was captured by the fact that God is actually the One who overwhelms, but not in a taxing, burdensome sort of way. His greatness, His beauty, His goodness, His mercy, all that He is and does in and around and through me completely overwhelms me. But these overwhelming feelings are exactly the kind I want and need—feelings of thankfulness and joy, of humility and grace. Suddenly the whirlwind inside me is calm—my to-do list, worries, concerns, and threats now seems smaller and less urgent. I will not be defeated by them, and I feel like I can take a step forward in faith knowing that everything is going to be OK, whether it all get’s done or not.
I hope you’ll accept Jesus’s invitation to “Come to me,” and “Take my yoke” this Christmas season. It will be the best thing you’ll ever do—I promise.
A little extra something for you…
10 Ways to Make It Through the Holidays Without Losing It!
- Make a list and prioritize it daily. Mix small accomplishments with 1-2 big ones so you can feel like you’re making progress.
- Take care of yourself physically. Get out and exercise a little every day. You’ll feel better and you won’t feel so guilty if you eat that cookie or overindulge at a party. Eat healthy during normal days to keep your energy levels up and pack a snack to take with you when you’re out and about. Go to bed earlier so you can feel rested and be able to fight off colds and sickness.
- Keep Christ in “Christ-mas” by reading about the birth of Jesus in your Bible, or watching movies like The Nativity that focuses on the human elements of his story.
- Keep it positive—only watch shows, movies, read books, or listen to music that portrays the goodness in people.
- Give yourself a break if you have to drop something off the list. Maybe this is the year that Gingerbread house just doesn’t happen. There’s always next year, right?
- Pray for the people on your Christmas card list as you write, stuff, lick, and stamp. What a gift you’re giving to each relative, your favorite friends and neighbors, and the people you’ve been touched by this year.
- Simplify—instead of making six kinds of cookies, cut down to 2-3! Maybe only one Christmas tree this year in the main room, not one in every room. (I don’t do this by the way, but I know people who do!)
- Limit Christmas shopping to 2-3 very focused, productive days. Avoid going out for more shopping when you’re “done” and don’t be tempted to add more to the list!
- Ask God very specifically how you can show love to someone today. Wait and watch to see who He brings into your life. Allow a little extra time in your day to sit and talk with someone you run in to or stash a little extra money in your wallet to give away!
- If you’re going to add anything to your list, make it out of generosity, not to give more for those who have plenty. Bake cookies for your local police or fire station, send cards to your pastor and the staff at your church, or buy an extra toy or two to donate to a good cause.
A Message From Jennifer…
In the interest of keeping myself in balance, I will write the December issue of The Radical Wife, but then I’m taking a break for the month of December from blogging. I will be posting some of my earlier tasty bites, so you can keep reading. My hope is to come back in January renewed and refreshed. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your support and encouragement this year on my crazy blogging and writing adventure—I feel overwhelmingly blessed!
Be sure to check out any Truth Bites you may have missed by going to my website: www.jenniferedwards.net/blog