On Being Overwhelmed

It’s been a crazy few days with demands on my time multiplying from every direction. I’m sure you’ve been there. Every minute has something to do and even as you finish one task, the next one knocks impatiently at your door! Also, that’s just when your kids decide to have two consecutive mud baths in the playground and on perfect cue the water runs out at home. Then when one more ‘ask’ comes pressing in through the cracks, you feel that silent scream within you gaining momentum to become audible with glass-shattering force.. That’s when you know you’re.. overwhelmed! : )

When I caught up with myself this afternoon, it occurred to me that feeling overwhelmed has two parts to it. For one, it brings in the sobering realization that..well..you are not God ..in that you cannot be everywhere at the same time or indeed be attentive to everyone’s problems at the same time, or work tirelessly without complaining all the time, or be super-super-duper patient or never sleep. So in that sense, ‘overwhelmed’ forces you to engage with your humanity.

But in another sense, (and this is the second part), being overwhelmed also forces one to engage with ‘eternity’ – the piece of it that’s within you. To quote the words of that lovely old hymn:

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

To reach the end of our ‘hoarded resources’ causes us to dip into a Strength that’s greater than our own and to do more than what’s ‘humanly’ possible.

The thing is, in times of feeling overwhelmed we often tend to focus on one part and miss the other. In the last twenty four hours, I’ve sometimes found myself saying with a sigh and a huff – “I’m only human” – but that is I think to miss the whole picture. I am human; terribly, wonderfully human…but it’s the very limitations of my humanity that ushers me into a life that’s bigger than the one I’m tempted to settle for. To quote the Apostle Paul here:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ( 2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

The treasure is priceless, the jar is fragile. And because of these amazing paradoxical twin truths, we are not destroyed.

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