From my few years of working in the food service industry, I’m no stranger to the feeling of being overwhelmed. Countless Friday nights of too many tables too close together, angry customers and a kitchen constantly running out of everything from ketchup to baked potatoes was enough to send me over the edge. It was a stressful time and I didn’t handle it well. I’m not the type of person to feel easily overwhelmed. I considered it a weakness and my distaste for that emotion was enough to cut my career in food service rather short.
Fast forward to now and I feel like “overwhelmed” has become more of the norm than a feeling from the old days. I’m no longer waiting tables but lately my mind has been constantly racing, wondering, planning, regretting, hesitating, worrying, stressing. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. My house needs attention. My husband needs attention. My businesses needs attention. My kids need attention. My friends, my family, my church, my phone all scream for my attention and I can’t seem to keep up with any of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I love my family. My husband is amazing. My kids are healthy and happy. I’m grateful for our home, our car, our income. We have food in the fridge and our bills are paid. It’s just that recently I’ve been feeling like I’m skirting by on “good enough” instead of attaining any excellence in any area. I’m treading water and keeping my head above the surface but I’m not making any progress. Where is my “life more abundant” that Jesus speaks of? (John 10:10) Where’s my peace, my joy?
My answer sits off in the corner, patiently waiting. He knows I need Him. He knows I’m overwhelmed. He knows that I’m about to reach the end of my proverbial rope, but instead of demanding, He simply waits. Someone once said something that stuck with me: “The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He never forces His way in but waits to be invited.”
While we stress and worry and wring our hands, God sits quietly and patiently until we are ready to talk. He listens, He observes, and when we finally reach the point where we can no longer maintain “good enough,” He’s ready to welcome and restore us. How amazing is that?
I know this to be true. I’ve experienced it time and time again. I know that He is the answer, that He can and will restore me. I’ve felt the power of His peace flood my heart and push out the bad. Yet, I always struggle to come to the place where I say enough is enough.
The enemy constantly whispers in our ears. He tells us that we’re fine. We can handle it on our own. We’re strong and we don’t need any help. He tells us God will be angry that we messed up YET AGAIN and this time He won’t forgive. He tells us that we shouldn’t bother God with our trivial nonsense because after all, He’s got much more important things to do.
Here’s the truth: God is crazy in love with us and His desire is for us to bring EVERYTHING to Him in prayer. (Eph 6:18) We cannot over pray. It’s not possible. We belong to Him. We were purchased at a high price. He has a lot more invested in us than we can ever comprehend. Nothing we could ever do (or not do) will make Him love us any less.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Ultimately, we are the ones who must choose to lay down our lives and the messes we create and simply come. When we do that, He can take us to a whole new level of peace that we have never experienced, but it must always be our choice. God’s not in the business of forcing us to do His bidding. He’s is the business of empowering us to perform His will. We’re not perfect and He knows that. He knows we’re learning and that we will make mistakes. Instead of being angry and frustrated when we screw it all up, He offers us grace. Instead of showing disappointment, He offers unconditional love. There’s nothing we can do to separate ourselves from it. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, when life isn’t going the way you’ve planned, when everything feels like it’s falling apart, come to the feet of Jesus and leave it all there. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by His unfathomable peace and joy rather than your messy life. He’s not calling us to be perfect, only willing.