Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Crushed. Overcome. Defeated. Overthrown. Submerged. These are all synonyms to the word overwhelmed. Many times during a season of change, these are the words that describe our current state of being. Life can literally feel as though we are drowning and being constantly overtaken by the mere mundane tasks, let alone attempting to live within the current change. Why is this feeling/emotion, overwhelm, such a huge part of changing? Our ways, reactions, and daily life has been set up to go a certain way (whether that is our doing or someone else's). When that cycle of life is disrupted in ANY way our mind/body are heavily affected. That state of heavily affected can also be described with the word overwhelmed.
There are several definitions of the word overwhelm, so let's break them down one by one. The first definition I want to look at is, "upset, overthrow," (Merriam-Webster) My immediate thought was of an emperor or king being taken from his or her thrown. Then I envisioned a two year old throwing a tantrum. Do either of these describe your current response to change? Both appear to be very selfish; therefore, if this is you, there may be a bigger issue here than the response to be overwhelmed. This reaction could be coming from pride and your ability not to ask for help.
The second definition of overwhelm is, "to cover over completely," (Merriam-Webster). It's the very opposite of avoid. Instead of pretending change is not happening, you are submerged within the current situation of life but to the extent of which it covers over who you are. You cannot define yourself based on the change happening around you or even in you. The only true identity we have is in Christ.
The last two definitions seem to blend nicely, "to overcome by superior force or numbers," or "to overpower in thought or feeling," (Merriam-Webster). This version of being overwhelmed has a lot to do with lies. These untruths can be from ourselves, our enemies, our friends, our family, our church, and even your children. No one's words are safe when your mind is taken aback by change. Personally this definition describes my overwhelmed state well. Instead of seeking truth within both thought and feeling, I allow the numerous unhealthy, untrue thoughts of myself and my perception of the way people view me as truth. This view of myself may or may not be true, but it overtakes my very being and destroys me. If this is you, the cause may be due to not finding your identity in Christ but it may also be a development of burdens and nonacceptance.
Being overwhelmed or rather CHOOSING to be overwhelmed is not a fun state to be in, especially when you realize that your overwhelming sensations have a much deeper route than just change. In Psalm 62:1 David pens, "From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]," (AMP). This verse not only gives hope that God hears us as we cry out over and over to take the change away or help us get through, but it's also a great reminder that we MUST be humble. Another route, besides pride, of overwhelming feelings is loosing sight or not having an identity in Christ. John says in chapter 1 verse 12, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," (NIV). If we could only grasp how much more our heavenly Father loves and can protect us than our earthly fathers, life would become so much easier. The last route of this response to change is deep within the fact we simply can't accept change or feel the need to fix it. A great verse to repeat over and over again when these LIES pop up is: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV). When we decide to put the labor of fixing change upon ourselves, God calls us to give it BACK to Him. He is in control, whether we see it or not, and His way of letting go and letting Him is the best way.
5 Practical Steps to deal with being overwhelmed:
1. Pray ALWAYS
2. Take at least 45 minutes to do something you love and shut off your brain (that is an exercise class or Netflix show for me).
3. Make a list of things that keep you up at night, brain storm ways to either delegate or fix them, and then focus on the things you CAN do and DO IT.
4. Keep your favorite food on hand at all times....sometimes it feels good just to enjoy a sweet treat or potato chips.
5. Do 12 minutes of Yoga three times a week. While participating, meditate on a scripture verse, your mantra, or a positive quote.