“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I’m feeling overwhelmed. Wednesdays can be hard for me. Perhaps it’s because the warmth of Sunday has worn off, and I find myself neck-deep in chores, homework, keeping everyone fed, and trying to keep up with my kids’ activities and schedules before the weekend finally comes. It doesn’t help when my husband is out of town and I’m juggling a new baby and teenagers all at once.
There have been lots of days like this—when the house is a mess, the sink is piled high with dishes, dinner still needs to be made, and everyone needs a piece of Mom. Somehow I get through those days and tackle the next one. But one particular Wednesday, it was too much. Tired and emotionally overwhelmed, I sat on the couch and started crying. “Heavenly Father,” I prayed desperately, “how am I supposed to do everything?”
His answers don’t always come immediately, but that day I heard Him immediately whisper to my heart, “You’re not. Just find joy in the journey.”
I sat stunned for just a minute, taking that in. I’m not supposed to be able to do everything. I can’t. But I can choose to be happy while working at it.
I couldn’t believe the relief I felt at that moment! I jumped up, tied on my running shoes, turned on some happy, upbeat music (probably Neil Diamond), and started washing dishes while I sang at the top of my lungs!
Joy came because I no longer felt overwhelmed by the pressure of doing everything. Joy came because God answered my prayer. I felt joy because I could feel His love and understanding. God doesn’t expect me to do it all. I should simply enjoy life while doing the best I can. Perhaps my best isn’t much, but that is okay too—as long as joy is involved.
So now we ask the question: How do we keep finding joy? There are, after all, only so many times you can play “Sweet Caroline” and sing at the top of your lungs (and only so much your family can endure)! Then what? How can we feel the peace and joy that Christ offers when a mountain of responsibility is looming before us?
How Do You Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed?
At times of intense emotion, it can feel impossible to get through daily tasks. You may feel drained, stressed, or a heap of other emotions. Be gentle with yourself and practice skills that help you cope. I have learned slowly, and sometimes painfully, four ways to keep finding joy.
1. Let Go of Perfectionism
I have learned that perfectionism is not a good thing. Perfectionism is the opposite of being Christlike. It leads to feelings of being overwhelmed. It’s me trying to do everything perfectly by myself. Perfectionism leaves no room for a Savior because I’m trying with all my might to be perfect on my own—it doesn’t matter what His plan is for me nor for those around me.
Practice overcoming your perfectionism. Maybe instead of having a spotless, shining house, He needs me to visit my neighbor. Instead of serving up the perfect dinner I had in mind, He needs me to simplify and play with my child. Maybe instead of running five miles today, He needs me to walk with a friend. It’s great to have goals, but be open to His inspiration and be willing to set your plans aside to do His will.
2. Express Gratitude
Even on the hardest, dreariest day, if I start thinking of things I’m grateful for, a little sunshine comes through to my heart. I learned to pray by first thanking God before asking Him for things. I used to think that was to show respect and appreciation to God, which perhaps it is to some extent. But one day I knelt in prayer, and I wanted to tell God how hard and horrible everything was. He gently reminded me to first give thanks. I really had to pause for a bit and think. But as I thought about it and began thanking God for blessings, I realized gratitude is for ME, not for Him! He wants us to thank Him to help us feel happy and recognize blessings because then joy can enter in!
3. Take Time to Be Still
In this scripture, God speaks to us and says, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
Meditate, pray, read scripture, take a peaceful walk, sit and breathe deeply, look out the window, and smile at something beautiful. Taking time to connect with God always makes my day better. Connecting with God each day by being still helps me to learn His will, and doing His will always brings joy. Connecting to God helps me to simply feel His love. Nothing brings more joy than feeling God’s love. He wants us to feel it. All we have to do is be still and notice—we can even ask to feel His love in those still moments. See what happens.
4. Be Present
Enjoy the here and now. We don’t have anything but now, even when we’re feeling overwhelmed. If “now” is spent worrying about tomorrow or next week or next year, we miss so many joyful little moments, so many gifts. I think when we enter heaven and reflect on our lives, we will see so many beautiful moments and gifts that we completely missed because we were distracted or stressed out or worried or frantically trying to get things done. By being present, we notice God’s presents and His presence.
Joy takes practice, and practice is what God asks of us. The dishes may be sky high, or maybe we don’t know how we will make next month’s rent or mortgage. We may be in pain. Maybe there is severe family dysfunction or an experience of mental illness. However, God has commanded us to have joy in the journey, so He will provide a way. Perhaps only He knows how to help us find joy, so when we look for Him, He will be there with answers and with joy
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