From Overwhelmed to Peaceful
Being overwhelmed about anything is never fun! Sometimes its being overwhelmed about a situation at work, sometimes its about a situation at home, sometimes its personal within us, and sometimes its in relationships around us. It's the feeling of having no idea how to proceed, or of not feeling power to change the situation, or of just drowning in the decisions that have to be made.
We tend to have a few different responses: avoidance; grit and determination; often, it is a combination of avoidance and determined grit. But what if there was another way to deal with overwhelm?
Moving from Pressure to Present
I don't know about you, but one of the ways that I can deal with overwhelm is by putting pressure on myself. "You shouldn't be feeling this way" or "You should have made decisions earlier to avoid this" or "Here you go again making the same mistakes you always seem to make." I am, and we tend to be, our own worst critics. And all we do, when we think like this, is heap the pressure on ourselves, and this only makes matters worse.
But what if we approached the overwhelm differently. What if we practiced towards ourselves a different disposition. One of noticing clearly and decisively what we are feeling, taking some time at an earliest point of convenience to understand what we're overwhelmed by in particular, and take ourselves to God in surrender, for Him to speak His words of life, promise, assurance, and guiding wisdom into?
This is a shift from judging ourselves for our overwhelmed state, and heaping the pressure on, to being present to what it is we're feeling, thinking, and concerned about, but taking this to God such that He can...
"...guide our feet into the path of peace." [Luke 1:79]
A Pathway which Overcomes Our Pressures
If you think about this concept of a "path of peace", declared in Luke's Gospel here to be what God is bringing to the world through Jesus Christ, a path is a set course to walk for however long the path goes for. If this is God's intention for us in Jesus Christ, then God is intent on setting a course for us to walk on into eternity that is described as a "path of peace." What an exciting, promising and hopeful prospect for you and I, especially in facing overwhelm.
Of course, a pathway is set, and set not by us. Jesus sets the course, sets the boundaries of the path, and sets the length and twists and turns in the course. In translating this metaphor, we're talking about Jesus giving us ways to live that are peaceful, and ways to live which bound our lives and set our course. As we practice relying upon His word, and living out sacrificial love and generosity, and forgiveness, and prayer, and loving our neighbour, and bearing witness (this is no exhaustive list), we find the path of peace increases our power to overcome the pressures that come in this life. We find, in short, power to overcome our pressures as we walk Jesus' path of peace!
Making Room - A Path of Peace Boundary
Could it be that practicing Making Room in our lives - for people yet to follow Jesus, for Jesus Himself, for gathering together with people - is part and parcel of Jesus' pathway of peace for us? I believe so. In other words, Making Room to go, grow and gather this year will increase our power to overcome the pressures that come in this life.
Take, for instance, the call to go and make room for people in our lives who are not following Jesus. That call is a recipe, usually, for all sorts of pressure, and overwhelm. But if we practice being present with our overwhelm, surrender it Jesus in prayer, and then seek out ways to walk with Jesus down this pathway of life, I know we will find it a pathway of peace that increases our power to overcome the pressures that come in life. So, what to do this week?
Instead of judging yourself for your feelings overwhelm, especially if they arise in the area of going to those around us who don't follow Jesus, why not this week:
Notice - what are you feeling, exactly? Anxious? Fearful? Worried? Troubled? Doubtul?
Understand - as you identify what you're feeling, ask yourself, what thoughts are attached to these feelings? What am I imagining? What scenarios come to mind with these feelings?
Surrender - having identified your feelings, and the thinking that goes with these feelings, take yourself to Jesus in prayer and ask for Him to speak to those feelings, thoughts, and imaginations with His promises, assures you of, and what He sees as possible.
I assure you, this is a much better way to deal with your overwhelm. And further, I am sure the Prince of Peace, Jesus, will grant you both His peace and the path to walk to keep in step with, such that your peace grows stronger in your way ahead.
I'm hunger for walking in His path of peace, and am practicing this with you this week!
Written by Ps. Rob