Today, I was going to an appointment and my GPS sent me a mile past the address to turn around and come back. I was scratching my head wondering why something as intelligent as Google Maps could send me so far out of the way.
I think life gets like that sometimes. Our minds get wrapped around a problem or a situation in our lives and we get out of sorts. Our kids get out of sorts. Our homes get out of sorts. Our schedules get off and it causes overwhelm and frustration.
I think it’s an interesting case study to see how people handle overwhelm. Some try to escape. Some isolate themselves and get stuck in the mess. Some dig in and set unrealistic goals for overcoming the overwhelm. Some shut down. And some look themselves in the eye and say, “You’re failing at this thing called your life.”
Do You Put Yourself in Condemnation?
I think the common thread is that we go to a defeated place – one cloaked in our personal flavor of shame. We become consumed with what is often just life that needs some time to iron itself out.
I’m kind of the “tackle it all” and then look at myself as a failure when the tackling doesn’t even knock a dent in the mess. I set unrealistic expectations and get down on myself because I should be able to do it better than this.
And I’m not that much fun to be around when things get like this. I don’t like me that much when I’m spread a little too thin. I don’t think my people like me that much during these times either.
And when I think about how to get myself out of the mess that is my head, I sometimes forget that I have power. I have power to overcome my emotions and my frustrations. I may not be able to erase them, but I can change my approach.
My Daily Reminder of Whose Power I Have
I put Bible verses I’m trying to memorize on my lock screen of my phone so I see it every time I pick it up. I’ve had Romans 8:1 on there for quite some time, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (NIV).
That verse should be enough to snap me out of an overwhelmed and failing state of mind, but I often don’t let it. It seems like just another thing to do – to sit down with my friend Jesus and sort this mess out.
But that’s exactly what I need to do.
A Plan to Release ME from My Own Condemnation
Here’s how we tackle this problem. I’m giving you this guide because I need some accountability. If I write about it, I will be more apt to practice what I preach.
- I write Him a letter (after I phone a friend and a husband and fuss at my children for being children). I need to reverse this cycle. I need to let them watch a documentary or a movie and go get my head straight. When I get to the source of the overwhelm, I can realize my power and perspective.
- I spend some time with my favorite Bible chapters. Psalm 37, Psalm 34, Romans 8, Philippians 2 & 4. Sometimes you need to get back to basics and remember why you do what you do. I’m loving Psalm 37:3-5 right now: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him also, and He shall bring it to pass.” I feel like this is where “This too shall pass” comes from.
- I break a chapter down into actionable steps. Psalm 37 has a great list.
- Trust in the Lord and do good. I reconfirm my trust that He has a much better plan than the overambitious plan I have in my head. I give my plans to Him and go do something to bless someone else. (This is usually a talk or connection time with someone I love.)
- Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. I take a good look around and take inventory of what’s good in my life. I’m not condemned; I’m saved by grace. I use this time to gain a new perspective on my situation. What’s good? What’s easy to drop? What steps do I need to take to repent and rework a relationship?
- Delight yourself in the Lord. We did this today. We dropped everything and went to a park. I delighted in my children. It’s my greatest joy to watch them smile and laugh. We did balance challenges and went down slides together. I remembered the joy they are. He gave me these three delights, so I delighted in the gift they are.
- Commit your way to the Lord. I think this is a daily decision that gets brushed aside for busyness. When I do this, my days are guided and as my dear friend Corrie ten Boom (we’d be friends in real life if we lived in the same time period) says, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength.”
If you struggle with self-condemnation, please know that you are not required to do this. This is not humility; it’s damaging and it’s not the life He gives you. You have power over your emotions and thoughts and life. Don’t get stuck. Go ask, seek and knock at that door of grace. Praying for you my friends!
What do you do when life is just too much?