Comfort in Overwhelm

Published on 19 March 2024 at 08:34

When was the last time you felt overwhelmed?  I know I have had several moments of overwhelm in the last few weeks!  Motherhood is a vocation that is very prone to moments of overwhelm!  It's a challenging vocation in and of itself and now more than ever, mothers have limitless opportunities vying for their attention.  Everywhere you look, there are things that you will feel like you should be doing.  And even if you are able to pair things down to just the essentials, motherhood by itself can be an overwhelming task.  Where do you turn when you are overwhelmed?  I know I tend to throw up my hands and say, "I can't do this" and blame others for the overwhelm instead of doing the only thing that will actually help me.  The only real and lasting solution to overwhelm is Jesus.  No amount of self-care will actually solve overwhelm.  It might help.  When you're out, everything is great, but when you come back home, nothing has changed and the overwhelm just comes right back like a flood.  However, Jesus is a lasting solution.  He can grab our hand, comfort us, change our mindset, and fix our focus.  He can actually change things, unlike a shopping trip or trip to the salon.  

Let's look to Jesus for some help in our overwhelm by looking at Matthew 14:22-33.  "Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matt. 14:22-33

The first thing I notice in this account is the disciples straining against the wind and waves for hours on end not getting anywhere.  Have you ever felt like this?  I immediately think of trying to train my children and feeling like I am not getting anywhere.  Will they ever learn to hang up their jackets, or make their beds, or clean up after themselves.  Or bigger issues, will they ever stop hitting others or learn that lying is worse than telling the truth.  Will they ever learn to be respectful.  It can seem overwhelming when you don't see any progress.  But notice when things changed for the disciples.  It was when Jesus got into the boat.  When Jesus was on board, the waves stopped.  When we are daily in the Word and focus on the important things, we don't feel so defeated all the time.  Focus on training your children in the Word.  Use God's law and gospel in your discipline.  (sidenote: I find it easy to use the law in discipline, but I often lack the all important gospel part of discipline).  Work on the little behaviors one thing at a time, but don't obsess about them.  The main thing is that your children know that they are sinners and that they run to their Savior for forgiveness.  Remember God tells us to, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matt. 6:33

The next thing that I notice in this account is Peter sinking.  When he keeps his eyes on Jesus, he can walk confidently in the midst of the wind and waves.  When he takes his eyes off Jesus and focuses on the wind and waves around him, he starts to sink.  But then notice that he says, "Lord save me!"  And Jesus is ready to grab his hand and pull him up to safety.  I can think of so many times that I take my eyes off Jesus and start focusing on the colicky baby crying day and night, the sick child, the mound of laundry, the pile of dishes, the potty training messes, maintaining a relationship with a teen, balancing work and family.  The list goes on and on and is different for everyone, but I am sure you all have a list of overwhelming things in your life that so often overshadow what is really important.

I constantly need to remind myself in those times of overwhelm not to try to blame others or seek escape.  "Well, if my husband would only help me more."   "I just can't do this on my own."  "I just need to get out of here for awhile"  I also need to remind myself not to retreat to the solace of social media to escape.  Your brain may tell you that scrolling social media will help, but in reality it only makes you more on edge and irritable, not to mention distracted from what is really important (God and the shepherding of the precious children He has given you).  What we really need is Jesus.  When the wind and waves of overwhelm are washing over you, remember Peter and like him cry out, "Lord save me!"  Pray for God's help.  And then dig into the scriptures to hear His reply.  He will reach out His hand and pull you up!  He will comfort you and give you wisdom through the scriptures.  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom." Psalm 111:10.  He will guide you!  One of my favorite passages talks of Jesus the good shepherd, shepherding mothers.  "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  If you are one of those with young, God promises that he will gently lead you.  Lean on Him.  Trust His guidance.  Dig into everything that He wants to tell you in His Word!  He will pull you up and allow you to walk confidently through the wind and waves of overwhelm.  

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Jennifer Loomis
4 months ago

Thank you Tamar!
I really needed this today!