So this is what it feels like to be suffocatingly overwhelmed…
Today I honestly felt like my brain was caving in on itself, like my world was totally hopeless, and I found myself wondering why I’m even here. I know this sounds really dramatic and kind of random, but, because I’m human, there are those days, those weeks, when things seem really bleak, no matter how much ice-cream I eat, no matter how many times I pray, no matter how much I sleep.
My professors are sending homework in on a dump truck and pulling a lever to make each assignment fall directly on my head. It’s been really difficult to put God first, to do my Bible study before I do my homework, to write in my journal first thing in the morning before checking my email for new assignments or news updates, to go to Tuesday Bible Study and Thursday Bible Study and church on Sunday morning…but I’ve been doing it regardless, because I know if I don’t, then things really will be hopeless. It’s getting really hard. On top of this, working out and eating are cramming themselves in there. I almost forgot to eat today.
All through today, and even yesterday, I was just…broken.
“There is no way I’m going to have a job after college.”
“I am going to be alone for the rest of my life.”
“I am going to fail.”
“The Bible isn’t helping me.”
“I’m not happy.”
“I’m worthless, pathetic, shattered, unimportant, insignificant, incompetent, and incapable.”
It was just lie after lie after lie playing through my brain on a constant reel. The worst part is normally I can tell when it’s just the devil messing with me or when I’m just being over dramatic, but I couldn’t today. I found myself believing it all. My rationalization skills were gone, my logic disintegrated, and any smart-alack, pithy, theological argument I’ve ever used before escaped my brain.
As I sat in the cafeteria during lunch, not touching my food and plowing through one of the many homework assignments I had racked up against me, my eyes began to well up with tears. The stress and anxiety were affecting my heart, and it was beginning to show.
I put my homework away and pulled out my notebook and wrote, the references added later:
“God, I’m just so overwhelmed. It just seems like everything bad is happening at home while I’m away. My future just seems so hopeless…I mean, I’m going to school for writing for crying out loud…there’s no job opportunities for a writer. I just don’t feel good about any of this. I hate not being able to change anything, or feeling like I can’t. I hate knowing that I can’t just fix things, just make everything better for everyone. I hate it. I’m beginning to see just how bad the world is, and I’ve been so ignorant of its condition. I didn’t think colleges actually had events to celebrate and encourage premarital sex around Valentine’s Day, or that people actually used drugs, or that spirituality was patronized and seen as a hobby or a lifestyle or a history lesson to be taught…I just can’t believe it. I also thought I’d be able to go through college without experiencing any friction concerning morality and how You see it, but as things worsen, I realize that it’s inevitable. My mind and heart are wired so that I’m shocked by how disgusting and frighteningly wrong humanity has become, how I used to be, and I don’t know what to do about it all. I know what Your word says, that it says I’m not fighting against flesh, that I’m fighting against Satan, his forces, the world, and myself all at the same time (Ephesians 6:10-12)…I guess I just don’t feel very victorious at all. I’m just so human, and I’m afraid, and I want to go home. I’m just bummin’, and it doesn’t seem like anything can encourage me. I know what Your word says, that You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), but I just don’t feel like that right now. God, I just need a hug..
“My feelings are really big right now, though I know Your word says when my heart tries to condemn me, You’re greater than my heart (1 John 3:19,20). I know Your word says that in the world I will without a doubt have trials and tribulation, but regardless of what will come, I can be of good cheer, because You have overcome this world and every other (John 16:33). I know Your word says that if I submit myself to Your protection and resist everything else then I will be safe, challenged, but safe (James 4:7). I know Your word says You care for me (1 Peter 5:7) and You love me (1 John 4:10, 19, Romans 5:8, Jeremiah 31:3). I know Your word says fire will not consume me and waves will not overtake me because You are with me (Isaiah 43:2). I know Your word says that You know temptation and that there is no temptation I can experience that hasn’t been experienced by someone else before me, and that, while You may give me more than I can handle, like this, You give me a way to endure the overwhelming everything, to escape the temptation to give up (1 Corinthians 10:13). I know Your word says that I am beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I know Your word says that when I seek You with all my heart, then I will find You…(Jeremiah 29:13)
and here You are.”
When I stopped writing, I still felt overwhelmed, but I remembered that nothing is hopeless with God, that God gives me a hope that is indestructible, unquenchable, substantial. I didn’t suddenly feel like I was frolicking through a field of daisies with a pony named Sprinkles. My problems didn’t suddenly evaporate into thin air and my worries didn’t flee. But I remembered that God knows…God knows what’s going on, and He has it under control (1 John 3:20). He wants me, He loves me, and His truth is just that: truth.
I don’t know how people can talk about God like He’s some distant legendary deity made to be in a book of fairy tales. I don’t understand how people can talk about Him and His word like it’s an everyday thing, like it doesn’t matter, like it’s textbook material. He’s just so….so unlike anything in this world. He’s completely unique in every way. His love is so different from what the world sees as love that all we can do to try and comprehend it is compare it to the purest human relationship we can think of, and even that falls vastly short. His character is so solid and so unattainable and incomprehensible that we can’t imagine His perfection, and think “well, everybody makes mistakes.” His peace and hope are so solely His that no human religion can recreate them, no amount of emotional exercise or therapy can supply them, no period of seclusion can obtain them.
I’m still overwhelmed, and while I tried to comfort myself with the thought that there are people around the world who are much more overwhelmed than I am, that never seems to make my situation or my feelings any less overwhelming. But even though my homework is still stressing me out, and even though my future is unknown to me, and even though my time is limited and compressed, I know that God sees it all, that He’s with me for me to lean on when things like this happen, when I feel like I just can’t take it anymore. It’s not even that I doubted God’s existence or the truth of His word: oh no, those facts are forever solidified in my mind. God is real, He loves me, and His word is 100% true (yes, I’m saying the Bible is absolute truth, you may get offended by that if you wish). I just forgot the power His word instills in me, I forgot what it said. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV).
Everything is going to be just fine, because God knows what’s going on in my life and has His hand over it, He’s always bigger than anything I can present to Him, He’s promised to comfort me and be a light to my feet when I’ve forgotten I’m His daughter, His precious treasure, He’s delivered me from myself so that I can approach the world in confidence, in capability, in competence, and in courage.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” –2 Timothy 1:7 KJV