One of the ironies of being overwhelmed last week was that I had placed a local lecture on my calendar but could not remember puting it there. My friend, Betty Dicken, who organizes the Dallas Lecture Series for The Meadows, reminded me that I was the speaker on May 16 and that it was on this topic, "”The Land of Overwhelmed: How do we get there over and over and how do we get out?" I thought I had just disqualified myself. In organizing my thoughts, I realized that I set myself up for "dropping some bits" by trying to hold more in my memory than it had a capacity to store. Overload is another word for it. Mentally, I can overload myself by trying to remember too many different things. And it doesn't take many different tasks to overload this non-multi-tasker. If I take on more responsibilities than I can comfortably keep up with, I have to stretch (stress!) to wrap around the commitments. The sense of "have-to" adds to the stress. So maybe it's a general thing that we get overwhelmed if we take responsibility for more than our capacity can comfortably hold. I'll have to give that more thought — later, after I've made a few more phone calls, answered a few more e-mails and balanced my check book.
I am encouraged to find that the Bible addresses the text-book ways to keep from being overwhelmed:
(1) Looking beyond our circomstances with an attitude of optimism and hope — "we also rejoice in our sufferings . . .and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5) and "Letting your mind dwell on honorable things as well as practicing good deeds" (Philippians 4:8-9) and many more.
(2) Maintain healthy social support systems — "stimulating one another to love and good deeds . . . encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25) in "the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12: 12-14)
(3) Be grateful for what we have and ask for what we need — "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
So why are so many people who call themselves followers of Jesus still overwhelmed and anxious? Hmmm!