The Run-Ahead Life
There are times when life goes faster than you can go. Whether it’s spiritually, emotionally, physically or mentally, it feels like there’s more day than daytime, more tasks than time, more emotion than you feel you can handle, more to life than you feel capable of carrying. No matter how it presents itself, feeling overloaded is tough, even if what you’re being overloaded with is full of good things!
These are the days where even simply starting can be hard because you get overwhelmed before you begin. You tend to not sleep because your mind is racing with what needs to be done, making that next list before the first one is even half way through. When I get like this, I start to feel anxious, cranky and impatient, usually with the people I most love. I start taking out my frustration in ways that make the situation worse, not better.
I have learned three key ideas that have helped me learn to cope with those big life changes. The first one is found in Luke 12:24-26. It says, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” This idea has changed my approach entirely. Now, I focus on taking just one step at a time and extending myself grace during a season of being stretched. I have found if I just tackle step one and accomplish it, I’m ready for step two. Step two doesn’t seem so hard to complete when I’m only focusing on step 2, not step 11 or 19. If a few balls momentarily drop in the meanwhile, I let it go. God has my back. He will take care of me—and amazingly, He always does!
The second key idea is what I call the Jethro Principle. Now Jethro was Moses’ father–in–law. Moses was worn out from all of his duties, and from people coming to him night and day to solve every issue and challenge. Jethro wisely stepped in and helped Moses organize and delegate responsibility so he wouldn’t have to do everything. For me, I have learned to ask myself what can wait? What can be done by someone else? What are the things only I can do? No one else can spend time with my daughter, for example. But someone else can drive her to soccer practice. Dishes can wait; homework can’t. No one else can drive the vision for my company, but others can help me perfect and refine it, and even do some of the brainstorming. Thinking this way helps me sort through my choices most effectively.
My third key is so simple it’s easy to overlook: prayer. We are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6-7). It never ceases to amaze me how God will give me the perfect idea, the perfect solution or the best next step during my times of praying with Him. It can be a thought that comes to me, or just a sudden feeling of knowing, but it happens consistently when I settle my mind and take time to pray.
The other beauty of prayer is that it helps me to let go of anxiety, and to grab a hold of trust. God does want my best, and He has already placed inside of me all I need to do a task He has called me to do. Just knowing that helps me to relax, be at peace, and have confidence He’ll bring me the answers as I continue to seek Him out. It also reminds me He is in control, so I feel more centered and therefore better able to tackle the next challenge.
So if, like me, you can find yourself overwhelmed and underprepared, remember you’re not alone. Extend yourself grace while you’re figuring out your new balance, just as God does to you. Take that deep breath, let it out and remember—the God of the universe has your back. Seek Him so He can cover it.
For Further Thought: What are some areas you can find yourself getting overwhelmed in? How might these principles help you to move forward more effectively?