Overwhelmed…. That is a good word to describe myself these last few weeks. And it mostly has to do with my job.
Most people know that I work at Protective Life Insurance. I’m a Business Systems Analyst. And no, I do not sell insurance 🙂 . I’m on the IT side of the world. (Or nerdy side of the world if you asked my girls and Scott!).
The current project that I’m working on is a very large acquisition of another company. It’s really the first project of its kind that I have been a part of. It’s by far the largest project I’ve worked on in my 20 years with the company. It’s one that just seems to keep growing and growing and growing, until it eventually overwhelmed me.
One Thursday night a few weeks ago, I was leading worship for our Celebrate Recovery service, Work had been extremely difficult that day, and I was going to have to go back to work after the service was over. While leading, during one of the songs, I just lost it. I think the pressure of the project just finally got to me, and it overwhelmed me.
Overwhelmed. What does that word even really mean? I use that word often, so I thought I’d look it up. Of course, it’s the past tense of the word overwhelm. And overwhelm means:
Bury or drown beneath a huge mass
Give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate
Have a strong emotional effect on
Be too strong for; overpower
That’s pretty much what I thought the word meant. And it’s pretty much what I’ve been feeling lately. Buried under a huge mass, often feeling defeated, having too much to do with too little time, very emotional, and almost overpowered at times. Just plain overwhelmed.
As I was churning over this for the last few weeks, I started thinking about what are the things that overwhelm us. The list started forming quickly:
Guess where I got all those from? The Bible. I looked up overwhelmed, and these are the things that were overwhelming people back then. And the same things that are overwhelming people today.
Overwhelmed by Fear – “Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me” – Psalm 55:5
Overwhelmed by Sickness – “Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering.” – Psalm 6:3
Overwhelmed by Shame – “My guilt/shame has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” – Psalm 38:4
Overwhelmed by Trouble – “I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death.” – Psalm 88:3
Overwhelmed by Sorrow – “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” – Mark 14:34
Overwhelmed by Anger – “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?’ – Proverbs 27:4
Overwhelmed by Sin – “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our sins.” – Psalm 65:3
I’ve been overwhelmed by all of these things listed above at some point in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with fear more times than I’d like to admit. From tornado warnings that seems to be a little too close to home, to my 2 childbirths, to moving to new churches… the list could go on and on.
I was overwhelmed with sickness when I could not seem to quit coughing for 6 months and I couldn’t sing. (Later diagnosed with asthma.)
I was overwhelmed by shame when I’ve done things that I know God wouldn’t be pleased with or against scripture.
I was overwhelmed by trouble/anxiety during the work project I was just describing above. I was overwhelmed when I had big church events to run, but didn’t delegate tasks out very well and there was just too much for one person to do.
I was overwhelmed by grief when my mom passed away in 2013. It didn’t hit me really before, during, or even after the funeral. It hit a few days later while sitting at our kitchen table, taking care of my mom’s affairs… and I sobbed aloud for what seemed like hours with my mom’s handwriting and papers all around me.
I was overwhelmed by anger when I heard church people talking badly about my pastor husband. And when church people sent very mean, criticizing messages to him via Facebook Messenger. Since we used to share an account, I saw all those hurtful words.
I was/am overwhelmed by sin – lack of self-control mainly – when I try over and over again to eat right and exercise and fail.
All of those things I listed above are all things that overwhelmed me in a negative way. But what about those things that overwhelm you in a wonderful way? I love to be overwhelmed like that!
One Easter a few years ago, we had a youth fundraiser where we sold live flowers and built a living cross in the sanctuary. It was beautiful and smelled heavenly! The Saturday before Easter, I went to Davis Wholesale Florist to pick up the order. Mind you, I don’t do floral arrangements, and I have never spent much time in a florist shop. So when the guy led me into this massive refrigerated room full of 5 gallon buckets of the most gorgeous flowers, I was completely overwhelmed! The sight and the smell of the room was just breathtaking. Even as I am writing this, I still feel that same wonder that I had that morning.
I have never been to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. But even just looking at pictures, I get overwhelmed. All those graves – all those men and women who gave their lives so that I might be free. Just so overwhelming.
I went to Jamaica for my senior trip back in 1995. I had never seen water that blue and beautiful in my life. The beauty and the vastness overwhelmed me.
Those are just a few of the times in my life where I have been overwhelmed in the good kind of way. They left me in awe and full of gratitude to the One who provided all that beauty.
If you noticed, most of these scriptures above were written by David in the book of Psalms. Seems like David spent a lot of time being overwhelmed as well. He had armies chasing after him trying to kill him. He had King Saul coming after him. He hid in caves – ALOT. He made some terrible, sinful choices that brought great shame and sorrow to his life. He was overwhelmed often by the things of this world.
But He was more overwhelmed with the goodness of our God. Psalms is chock-full of verse after verse, chapter after chapter, of praise to the Lord. Even within the same chapters as the scriptures above, where he talks about being overwhelmed by this world, he seems to always come back to how awesome our God is and that he trusts in the Lord. He was more overwhelmed with the goodness of God than the troubles of this world.
After that CR service where I had lost it while leading the worship songs, I felt such a release. It’s like as I let myself be vulnerable and share out loud my struggles, the prayers and encouragement of the people there began to strengthen me and they helped remove the hands of anxiety that seemed to be choking me. And then as I praised and sang about how God is our Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness, I felt myself being overwhelmed by Him rather than the project.
I honestly believe that the more I stay overwhelmed at the goodness of God, I am not nearly so overwhelmed by the things of this world. If anything, the more I am overwhelmed by the Lord, I end up overcoming the things of this world!
Here are five things I have learned that help me stay overwhelmed by God:
1 – Make a list of all that God is. Then read over it, especially when you are beginning to feel more overwhelmed by your problems rather than Him.
2 – Talk to someone about how you are feeling or what is overwhelming you. Something about sharing your problems with a trusted friend helps lighten the load.
3 – Focus on how BIG your God is rather than how big the problem is.
4 – Remember all the times in the past where He has been faithful. It truly is a faith builder! It will fire you up!
5 – Praise Him! There is power and freedom when we praise Him!
I’m so over being overwhelmed by this world. It’s time to overcome the world.
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.’” – Isaiah 61:10 NLT
I am amazed every time I read your stories! You are a precious person! You relate to everyone it seems. I am so blessed to have been in your life the few years I was. I learned so much! Overwhelmed?! Yes I understand, I also understand the good kind🙏🏻❤️ Thank you for being you😘
Love you and miss you Patti!! I feel blessed that God crossed my path with yours!!
Thank you for this reminder to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the good. It could not have come at a better time. I have never met you in person, but I can see you are an amazing and very wise woman
Thank you so much for the kind words! God bless you!!