The Serious Problem
The word "overwhelmed" gets used a lot these days. Its a very familiar feeling to me, and probably is to you, too, if you are a mama. Even if you aren't overwhelmed right now, you probably remember the last time you felt that way.
That overhwelmed feeling is a serious problem because (and I HATE writing this because I hate that it's true of me) being overwhelmed is a symptom of a lack of faith. YUCK. Can this really be?
One my goals with Fully Charged Mamas is to help with this overwhelm. It is one of the biggest obstacle to thriving. I do this by helping mamas gain life giving perspective and create routines so that they can THRIVE in their mothering journey.
Real quick, let me talk about each part of that:
If we have the wrong perspective, if we aren't getting filled up and charged up from the inside out, then we will exist in a state of trying to give what we don't have. This is where overwhelm starts. This place of not having or being enough. (More on this in just a sec)
Even if we have the correct perspective, our circumstances can simply be overwhelming. We need to be effective managers of our lives in addition to what is going on inside of our hearts. If either one of these pieces is missing, we are simply going to keep struggling.
We can't always control our circumstances, and we will at one point or another find ourselves in a place of "not being enough" for what life throws our way. But we don't have to allow that to sabotage our families and our joy. So today, I want to talk with you about the perspective part of the puzzle. This is the part that doesn't have to change, regardless of our circumstances.
Because I am a process engineer, I love teaching strategies and techniques and routines and planning tools. But the reality is that if we lose our ever-loving-minds when that overwhelmed feeling kicks in, we are not in the right place spiritually or emotionally or mentally to implement anything!
It Happened on a Sunday (maybe you can relate)
It's time for us to head out the door to go to church.
My husband left a couple of hours earlier because he is the pastor, and I'm desperately trying to get my makeup on.
I walk into the kitchen and see that one of the children has decided to do an experiment with making slime using cornstarch. So, walking over the corn-starch dusted floor to the sink, I see a cereal bowl, still full of soggy cereal, sitting in the bottom of the sink covered in a cornstarch and water slime.
I look at the table and see some mushed up cheerios that escaped a bowl starting to adhere to the table and a milk splatter on the floor from some precious child trying to clean up after themselves.
Did I mention that I had already made and cleaned up breakfast?
And we’re supposed to have a family over for lunch that day.
My panic level is starting to rise just a bit as I call for the kids (maybe not in the nicest tone of voice?) to come and help me clean up the kitchen.
One kid walks in with unkempt hair sticking up in every direction, another with no shoes on, and a third kid can't even hear me because they are sitting on the pot...all this while we needed to leave 5 minutes ago to make it to church on time.
I am officially overwhelmed.
This is when the ugly mama rears her head.
Now hear me - we can talk about strategies to keep this kind of crazy from happening to begin with, and those are important and totally doable.
But the real problem wasn't that my kids' hair wasn't fixed, or that I was running late, or even that my kitchen was covered in decomposing slime....the problem is my heart and my perspective.
As believers, we have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us. This means that we have access to some pretty incredible resources.
You see, the Holy Spirit is not an "it", The Holy Spirit is a He...meaning He has personality, just as Christ had personality.
What this means for us is that when scripture says we are being transformed into the image of Christ, God is creating in us the personal character of Christ. And He is doing it through the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence and power - and He wants to help!
"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith or faithfulness, gentleness, and self control."
Right before this passage, Paul is contrasting that fruit with the fruit of our flesh (he gives a list of those fruits of the flesh and you can go read them) but in my example above - the fruit of my flesh in that scenario - is anger, selfishness, frustration, yelling, harsh words. UGH!
Fruit a natural product. The Sprit of God produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. So when you are feeling overwhelmed, are you being patient? Kind? Gentle? Showing self control?
Here is the reality:
We chose to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit. Because of the empowering presence of God in our lives, we have the option of exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit! (Even with slime and spilled cereal and running late!)
Paul continues in verse 24 to say,
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.”
And this is coming from a man who was not unfamiliar with overwhelming circumstances.
In Acts 27, Paul was on a boat that was going to wreck (on his way to trial before Caesar, by the way.) He was trying to tell the sailors what to do and no one would listen to him and the boat sank.
Talk about frustrating! It makes me want to pull my hair out when my kids argue with me! Did Paul get ugly and use hurtful words? No!
Because it doesn't say that we are to walk in the Spirit only when circumstances are hunky dory.
So...how do we do that? I'm gonna tell you.
3 Ps For Being a Nice Mama When You Feel Overwhelmed: Put, Practice, Pray.
First of all, the Bible tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind...so we need to set (or put) our minds on the Word of God.
If you aren't reading the Word daily, this is really, really hard to do.
Listening to the Word from the Bible app in your car. Get up 10 minutes earlier and read in the quiet. Read it while soaking in a bath (as if you ever have time to do that!). Write a verse on your mirror. Put the Word in! The transforming power of the Word of God ingested cannot be overstated.
2 Tim. 3:16-17:
"the Word of God is for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS”
Secondly, we practice.
We must work-out our salvation. It isn't easy because the World, the Devil, and our own Flesh is conspiring against us...but Greater is He, right!
So you dwell on these truths, you practice gentleness with your kiddos when you aren't overwhelmed.
You ask the Lord to reveal to you your tone of voice.
You chose kindness with your husband, even if he is...I don't know...grouchy.
You chose joy (as opposed to complaining) when things aren't going your way.
You practice self-control when the cookies get baked and you want to eat them all or when you are at the store and have the impulse to buy something you don't need.
Third, you pray. You make the habit of praying so that when you walk in that room and see what that kid did, your first response is to say "Lord...I need you. Help me right now."
I have, on homeschooling days, just left the school room, gone into my kitchen, got on my knees, and said "Please Lord Jesus, just help me!" I'll tell you...He does. HE. ALWAYS. DOES.
Why? Because Isaiah 66:2 says:
“I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.”
The Final Step
I know that yelling at my kids when I'm mad is wrong. I know that using harsh words is wrong. And to say I can't help it because I'm overwhelmed is a lie from the devil. It’s not true!
So this isn't very glamorous, but the truth in it should bring all overwhelmed mamas some serious hope.
We can and should chose to let the Lord produce the fruit that has already been given to us.
One important (super important!) part...just make sure you aren't trying to manufacture this fruit.
It only comes from a walking and talking relationship with the Lord.
You cannot do this in your own power…not real Spiritual fruit anyway…and even if you could, it would be worthless in the Lord's sight. Remember that He says apart from Him we can do nothing. At least nothing good!
Ok...I hope you are encouraged to be kind, even when you're overwhelmed. We all get overwhelmed! But we don’t have to allow our circumstances to dictate our behavior.
Still Want Some Practical Help?
This is the kind of circumstantial help that we need to avoid the overwhelm to begin with.
So if you haven't taken that course, go over to https://ThrivingMamaAcademy and take it. It's totally FREE and I would love for you to have it.